Once a year, frequently in September, Mary Ellen and I head off to a conference for a bit of R&R – a few quiet days to discuss the past year’s events and a time to plan for the up-coming year.

2008 was no exception and we headed off to Vancouver Island and a conference on emerging practices in drug and alcohol treatment.

That conference provided the inspiration for our very first Non-12 Step Newsletter with the thought that we might have enough material for five or six more. Instead, this issue is our 257th!

In honor of that visit to the Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia conference, and the resulting Newsletter’s beginnings, we are reprinting that first edition below. Turns out it remains as relevant today as it was then.

September, 2008  – The “New Perspectives” Conference On Vancouver Island, B.C. Validates Non-12 Step Treatment!

We just returned from the New Perspectives Conference and were delighted to find that the “new perspective” reinforces everything we do – and have done- for the past 20 years. Hosted by the Edgewood Center in Nanaimo, British Columbia, presenter after presenter noted that the “disease model” is applicable to only a very small percentage of people seeking help with their alcohol problems.

At least twice a year we attend conferences where we hope to gain additional tools with which to help you, our clients and readers. Usually this is a futile wish as most conferences do little but reinforce the same old – and largely ineffectual – treatment regimens. Happily, this time we were pleasantly surprised.

While it’s hard to summarize all of the presentations in a paragraph or two, we did note a different emphasis which included differentiating between individuals with “abuse” versus “dependence” problems, with the latter category making up only about 15% of those who would benefit from treatment – the 15% who might actually be considered to suffer from a “disease.” The other 85% – the alcohol abusers – would obviously be better and more effectively served by programs designed around a far different model. But then we knew that, given our more the 20 years of experience in providing just that type of individualized, client based, programming.

Additional presentations reported on the generally positive contributions of the anti-craving medication Naltrexone and the sometimes helpful use of Topamax, Campral and Antibuse. We were very pleased to hear the reports which recommended supportive medication help with treatment – an aide that is too frequently opposed by the traditional AA based treatment community.

An additional refreshing aspect of the conference was an independent book seller with a wide variety of materials representing many perspectives. We added to our library with copies of Addictive Thinking by Twerski, The Brain That Changes Itself by Dodge, Cognitive Restructuring For Addiction Workbook by Gorski, and Stop The Chaos, by Tighe.

We thought the days were well spent and we especially enjoyed the wonderful weather and hospitality on Vancouver Island. We escaped long enough to explore the island roads a bit and also to wander around the Butchart Gardens.
While this was our first trip to a Canadian conference, it won’t be the last. All in all, the conference far surpassed any we have attended in many a long year.”