Treating Alcohol Addiction: Can A Pill Replace Abstinence

At issue is the definition of treatment. In the U.S., successful treatment of addiction has traditionally been an all-or-nothing undertaking, involving complete abstinence — as promulgated by supporters of 12-step programs like AA — rather than a regimen of moderation. For many, that definition includes abstinence even from drugs that would help fight cravings. Indeed, for decades, experts have debated whether drug addicts who cannot or will not quit should even be offered ongoing treatments that would reduce harm related to their drug abuse. Although many providers have recently become more open to new options, the majority of American addiction treatment continues to use the 12-step abstinence model.