Further Reading

How can I employ sensible treatment practice while working in the chemical dependence field?

Dear Stanton:

I first heard about you from one of my instructors in college. She strongly recommended we become familiar with your views. I thank you for your views, writings, research, etc. However, as a so called "Substance Abuse Professional", I would like to know how one can battle the ever present "disease concept" when trying to find a job. I live/work in Minnesota, USA. I do believe it treatment is most often about retraining (so to speak) people on how to make better choices about their lives. But when you do not have the time, money, energy, to go to school for 8-10 years it is rather hard to get work unless you play the game. Perhaps to you I simply sound lazy, to that their may be a point. However, I am a 37 yr. old single mother of a 4 yr. old boy. I didn't even start school until I was 31. (Yes I spent 20 years using drugs and alcohol before changing my own life.) So how Mr. Peele does one go about trying to make a living in this field without "playing the game"?


Dear Jane:

  1. I don't think you're lazy. I think it is damn tough to try to practice sensible treatment in the U.S. (let alone to support yourself and a child).
  2. I welcome people like you in the field, because they infiltrate and undermine the status quo and offer people choices and chances that are not readily apparent when we take an overview of this silly, often-futile field.
  3. There are others (perhaps many) like you. They do they best they can without sacrificing their integrity, refusing to bow down to the great disease god, using sensible practice principles in their interactions with clients.
  4. At the same time, they don't confront management with their alternative views because, as you recognize, they'd throw you out on your can. But, in a gentle way, they lean towards and encourage sensible policies that their programs can tolerate.
  5. I know I recommend walking a difficult tightrope here. It is not that I fear that I am telling you to be duplicitous. It is because I recognize that it is grueling to put on an inauthentic face every day, and to take it off while dealing with clients and at home. Is that playing the game? But, then, I have paid my own price of fighting standard treatment practice in the U.S., so I feel at least that I can understand some of the duress that you face.

Finally, there is one well-known nondisease substance program in Minneapolis, run by Bob Muscala, called "Chemical Health Alternatives." Perhaps Bob would have some advice or options to offer you.

With all best wishes,


What a relief to FINALLY find someone to validate my discomfort with "recovery" Unfortunately, I am a licensed professional and am now "imprisoned" in a recovery program as a condition for keeping my license. Is there nothing I can do to break off the handcuffs? I am almost ready to release my license in order to escape the system.


Dear Debbie:

I have no easy answer for someone who must work in this field. I have faced a lot of difficulty myself. Perhaps you can (secretly) begin to look about for private patients who seek nondisease treatments in order to keep your sanity. But, hey, I know it is hard to give up a paying job where you may do some good! (I enclose another answer I gave to someone similar to yourself.)

Your comrade in arms,

See also Heretic in a 12 step treatment system