The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

March 16, 2013

Author offers sobering view ‘Inside Rehab’

Anne Fletcher: ‘Most people overcome their problem by going to AA or doing it on their own’

Anne Fletcher is blunt when it comes to the alcohol and drug addiction recovery industry.

“The industry really is a mess,” the local author said. “This is the Wild West.”

And she should know. Fletcher’s latest book, “Inside Rehab,” is an indictment on the industry. The book goes in depth in its examination of 15 treatment centers across the country, including high-priced so-called “celebrity rehab” facilities as well as such venerable places such as Minnesota’s Hazelden.

What did she find?

A lot.

Fletcher’s research shows there are roughly 22 million people in the U.S. with a serious drug or alcohol problem, and only one in 10 seeks help. Research also shows, however, that most people who overcome their addictions never set foot in a treatment program.

“Most people overcome their problem by going to AA,” she said, “or doing it on their own.”

Which isn’t to say she endorses Alcoholics Anonymous. Quite the contrary. Part of her book delves deeply into the fact that, in many cases, people are never told there are other options beyond AA, such as Smart Recovery.

Fletcher assesses that no matter how much you pay, the effectiveness of your treatment generally doesn’t vary that much. There are exceptions, of course. But Fletcher found evidence that people who pay top dollar for in-patient treatment — in some cases up to $30,000 per month — wind up no better off than people who pay far less for out-patient care.

“Many people will do well in a model where they’re in out-patient care by day and in a good sober house at night,” she said.

Fletcher said that, after conducting her research, she came to three important conclusions.

Cookie cutters

First, she found that a tendency exists for rehab programs to use a cookie-cutter approach to treatment. Within these programs, many offer little one-on-one time with psychologists and rely generally on group therapy sessions.

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