Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wrapping up The Addict

Michael Stein's book follows one patient's treatment for drug addiction for one year, starting with the day she came to his office asking to be prescribe buprenorphine. There is nothing magical that happens at the one year mark in this story. Lucy Fields has had some successes and failures during the previous 12 months, at the time the record ends she has been sober for some time without a relapse, but is not yet willing to go off the buprenorphine. She has had some breakthroughs, and there is definitely reason to be optimistic about her continued recovery. Stein mentions at the end that he continued to work with her for several more years, with language indicating that she was still his patient. Recovery for addicts is a relative term. Some say alcoholics and drug addicts are never completely recovered. Others would argue that after some extented period of sobriety they can be considered cured. I heard a story once about how alcoholics are treated in the UK and it did not require complete abstinence. Those in recovery were taught to become "social drinkers" again. They went to a pub or other public place and had one or two drinks with their sponsors. I don't remember what I heard about the success rate.

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