Years ago I worked in the Alcohol and Substance Abuse program at Craig House Hospital, in Beacon, New York. This program used the following interventions: one week detox for those needing it; a 90-day program including 90 AA meetings; individual psychiatric therapy and alcohol counseling; stress management groups; cognitive therapy; assessment of other psychiatric problems such as depression, schizophrenia, or eating disorders occurring with alcoholism; and a balanced life each day with good nutrition as well as exercise and recreation.
The average success rate for those who attended the program at Craig House and a subsequent program for 2 years (3 AA meetings a week; monthly therapy appointments at Craig House; monthly family meetings), was 79%. Sadly, the 90-day treattment concept is now rarely available due to changes in insurance reimbursement.
Surely this debate regarding the most effective way to help people with alcohol problems is relevant to Christians. It would be interesting to know where parish priests refer parishioners who need assistance, and toward which approach?
Many of our young people in college see their education derailed by excessive drinking. How do we help them avoid a lifetime of alcohol or substance abuse?
Traffic deaths associated with drunk driving devastate the families of victims and drivers both.
In what ways can individual Catholics and our community of faith better educate teens and their parents about the danger of drinking excessively?
Your thoughts would be welcome.
William Van Ornum is professor of psychology at Marist College and director of research and development/grants at American Mental Health Foundation in New York City. He studied theology and scripture at DePaul University.