We were talking to people at Betty Ford and Passages this week and noted that they are now pushing their “New Gold Standard” of treatment, which in their world is 90 days of residential treatment. Betty Ford charges $39,000 for their program, and Passages $200,000! They are pretty much the low and high ends for residential treatment, with most other places falling somewhere in between. That’s a lot of money in any case! Below we pass along our perspective on this trend.

  1. The New Gold Standard
  2. This Week’s Tip
  3. Around the Office
  5. From the Tool Chest
  6. A Touch of Humor

1. Trends

Why is there this trend away from 30 days towards 90 days of residential treatment? Actually, there are several reasons, some good, some not so good. The good reason is that it does take about 90 days for real change to start to take hold and feel right to you. That is why we designed our program as 5 days of intensive outpatient with 90 days of follow-up.

Another reason for the residential programs is marketing. Simply put, it’s more profitable to keep existing clients for 90 days than to find new clients every 30 days. And since economic times are getting tougher, and they have a lot of overhead in these programs, suddenly you must stay 90 days if you really want to get well.

An insidious reason, at least from our perspective, is that it also takes 90 days to indoctrinate someone into conforming to a rigid program, or a cult, that’s rarely in their long term best interest. This 12-Step/AA brainwashing always follows the same steps: isolate you, reduce you, cram you into a one-size-fits-all conformity, and drill in the rote (you’re powerless, you have a disease, you’ll be in recovery forever, you must attend meeting and maintain an alcohol focused life, etc.) again, and again, and again.

It’s where we differ from all of those programs. We’re not in the least interested in converting you, or indoctrinating you, or eliminating your individuality. Just the opposite. We’re interested in maximizing your interests, strengths, individuality, and abilities. We don’t have any interest in isolating you from your real life. Instead, we work with you to fix whatever isn’t working for you in yours. Really, we’ve have never had any two clients whose road to success looked exactly like any other clients’, including those who came looking to moderate or engage in harm reduction – an outcome no one else will work with you on.

We also believe the research and our experience – it’s not a disease, we aren’t powerless, we can fully recover, and we don’t need to devote any time to “being in recovery.”

As a consequence we don’t have to isolate you and reshape you into a “hi, I’m Bill. I’m an alcoholic.” clone. Nope – we want you to become more of yourself than you’ve been. We want to help you find new options and alternatives for yourself. We want your time, energy, and, yes, money, freed up to do stuff other than sitting around dreary meetings that just encourage you to resume your old drinking behaviors.

And, by the way, we don’t charge you $200,000, or $30,000, or even $10,000.

2. This Week’s Tip

Get active! While activity isn’t a cure-all for depression, it’s a good short term “high” for most people and it’s also a substitute for times usually spend drinking. Interest in any activity, whether walking, weight lifting (one of our favorites), biking, dancing, swimming, or anything else that appeals to you, will also tend to both displace you drinking and give you a good reason to reduce your alcohol consumption. It’s hard to do your best with a hangover.

This is all part of reversing the amount of time, attention, and expense you put into drinking. Squeezing alcohol out of your life is a part of any good treatment plan. And please remember, “better is better” – meaning any improvement in your day-to-day life – even when progress is slow.

3. Around the Office

Sometimes things around here take on a life of their own. Last week I mentioned Shogun and Jazz, the family dogs, and then I mentioned to my wife, Denise, that maybe we might consider adopting another dog. A bit of company for Jazz now that we’re gone more often and step-daughter Jessica is combining work and college.

Big mistake. Before I could turn around the two of them were combing kennels and web sites and hashing out requirements: over 3 years old; under 30 pounds; sheds less than Jazz; and so on. What I’d tossed out as a “to think about” topic had turned into a campaign.

For a few minutes I was a bit annoyed.

But, oh well, I obviously couldn’t turn the tide so I decided to join in the hunt in order to have at least some say in the outcome. From the safety of my office I went through the various sites until I stumbled across www.roverrescue.com and Jasper. While he may not work out, of course, he’s a strong candidate and we’ve filed adoption papers and started the process of being approved – a process Denise, a child placement social worker, is familiar with from the other side.

So that’s where we are this week as we wait for evaluation and Jasper heals from recent surgery to repair the injury that lead to his being abandoned. We hope that the process will be sorted out by Christmas. That would be, I think, a good present for all of us.


There are two things that will be believed of any man whatsoever, and one of them is that he has taken to drink.

-Booth Tarkington

We’re stopping at one quote this week because it’s one that applies to a number of our clients – men and women who’ve been accused of having problems by someone else and are confounded by their attempts to clear themselves. Sometimes we help them manage that task, but mostly we can only teach them how to minimize the damage since treatment programs have been very successful in convincing people that if you deny having a problem it simply means you are “in denial” – which only proves you really do have a problem. Sigh!

5. From the Tool Chest

Another free health site is a good companion to the Real Age site we mentioned 2 weeks ago: http://www.livingto100.com approaches the same health considerations from the perspective of predicting your life expectancy based on your current life style. It too offers targeted advice on lengthening your projected stay on planet earth

As with Real Age, the value lies in providing good strategies for improving your day-to-day health along with the realization that it isn’t “too late.” Indeed, many of the major improvements can take effect in a mere few months. The effects, for example, of my 30 years of smoking were halved in 6 months, largely erased in 2 years, and completely gone after 6. That’s motivating!

6. A Touch of Humor In Keeping With the Season

Under every stone lurks a politician. – Aristophanes

Now I know what a statesman is; he’s a dead politician. We need more statesmen. – Bob Edwards

Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job. – Douglas Adams

Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything. – Frank Dane

Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation. – Henry Kissinger

If God had wanted us to vote, he would have given us andidates. – Jay Leno

The reason there are so few female politicians is that it is too much trouble to put makeup on two faces. – Maureen Murphy

Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.Nikita Khrushchev

An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.Simon Cameron