The Stubborn Addiction Field

October 20th, 2011 | Posted by Michael Taleff in Uncategorized

Is it just me or has the addiction field generally met new ideas with intractable stubbornness? Some move past this stubborn state, and accept new things, but it’s that initial face-to-face encounter with a new idea is often one laden with suspicion and disbelief.

For example, many were not thrilled with the idea of believing that the foundation of addiction is one of a spiritual perspective, many are not thrilled that addiction is classified as a dispositional perspective (inherently different), or of the characterlogical perspective (character defects), or the medical model, or now as a brain disease hypothesis.

The pivotal question is not which of these is the holy grail of truth (that search needs a bit more definitive research), but why so many folks in our field have such a hard time coming to terms with another addiction perspective. The same goes for the methods we use to treat addiction, be it AA, Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, among others.

Some folks just stubbornly stick to an addiction perception or treatment mode no matter what. It takes a crow bar to wedge these folks to another view of things.

I venture a guess that among the various reasons that make addiction folks stubbornly hold on to a point of view is their loyalty to their pet theory. If, for example, I’ve held to a character defects perspective for years, it is going to be difficult to relinquish such a position quickly to some new kid on the block. Part of the reason relates to a thing called loss aversion, where we value what we hold more than its real value.

Even the mere thought of giving up such loyalty has got to elicit some anxiety. That anxiety will surely add to my stubbornness. Moreover, to give up my long-held view will certainly impinge on my years of comfort with whatever I hold dear. To discard my comfort for the new thing gets us back to the anxiety issue.

Then there is that lurking thought that perhaps I won’t really understand this new fangled theory. That has got to elicit even more anxiety, and sadly more stubbornness.

Given all this stress and strain, it is no wonder new ideas are often belittled with all manner of defenses and justifications for not converting to the new stuff. That is not rational. Add to this, the odd belief that the new idea (any new idea) will somehow bring down the pillars of the establishment.

Such justifications, anxieties come with baggage.

The central problem with not keeping an open mind about the new kids on the block is that another perspective or treatment just might be the best thing to treat a client.

Being stubborn for no rational reason has the potential to deprive a client of the best understanding and best treatment possible.

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