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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,
for
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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