Who Needs Rehab?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
By Maureen Cavanaugh, Megan Burke

In today's America, we've developed a ritual around the treatment of substance abuse. First a problem is suspected, then addictive behavior becomes evident, then authorities step in, either in the form of parents, law enforcement or through an intervention of concerned friends. And the only place to go next is rehab.

From celebrities to high school drinkers, treatment at a professional facility is widely accepted as the best way for addicts to get clean and begin living a sober life. But is it really the best way?

Anne Fletcher, a health and medical writer, explored what goes on inside rehab centers in her new book, "INSIDE REHAB: The Surprising Truth About Addiction Treatment And How To Get Help That Works."

She visited 15 programs across the rehab spectrum.

"What surprised me most is the more you spend doesn't necessarily mean you're going to get better treatment," she told KPBS.

Another surprise was the gap between science and practice, she said.

"There are a lot of things we know are effective for addiction treatment and they're not going on in a lot of addiction treatment programs in this country," she said.

Fletcher said she had a serious drinking problem but did not go to rehab. She added that outpatient treatment can be just as effective as residential treatment centers.