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alcohol without any form of treatment. Sobell, Sobell, Toneatto, and Leo
(1993) report that 82% of the alcoholics they studied who terminated their
addiction did so by using natural recovery methods that excluded the use
of a professional. In another example of the use of natural recovery techni-
ques, Granfield and Cloud (1996) indicate that most ex-smokers discontin-
ued their tobacco use without treatment. while many addicted substance
abusers “mature-out” of a variety of addictions, including heavy drinking
and narcotics use. Biernacki (1986) reports that addicts who naturally stop
their addictions use a range of strategies that include breaking off relation-
ships with drug users, removing themselves from drug-using environments,
building new structures in their lives, and using friends and family to pro-
vide support for discontinuing their substance abuse.
Granfield and Cloud (1996) studied middle-class alcoholics who used
natural recovery alone without professional help or self-help groups.
Many of the participants in their study felt that the “ideological” base of
many self-help programs was inconsistent with their own philosophies of
life. For example, many felt that some self-help groups for substance abu-
sers were overly religious, while other self-help groups believed in
alcoholism as disease which suggested a lifetime struggle. The subjects
in the study also felt that some self-help groups encouraged dependence
on the group and that associating with other alcoholics would probably
make recovery more difficult. In summarizing their findings, Granfield
and Cloud (p. 51) report that:
Many [research subjects] expressed strong opposition to the suggestion that
they were powerless over their addictions. Such an ideology, they explained, not
only was counterproductive but was also extremely demeaning. These respon-
dents saw themselves as efficacious people who often prided themselves on
their past accomplishments. They viewed themselves as being individualists and
strong-willed. One respondent,
instance, explained that
such programs
encourage powerlessness
and that she would rather
trust her own instincts
than the instincts of others.
Humphreys (1998) studied the effectiveness of self-help groups with
substance abusers by comparing two groups: one receiving inpatient care
for substance abuse, and the other attending self-help groups for substance
abuse. At the conclusion of the study, the average participant assigned to a
self-help group (AA) had used $8,840 in alcohol-related health care
resources as compared with $10,040 for the inpatient treatment partici-
pants. In a follow-up study, Humphreys
(1998) compared outpatient
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