I was just tooling around online, and found this article in USA Today:

The Army needs to double its staff of substance-abuse counselors to handle the soaring numbers of soldiers seeking alcohol treatment, said Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s No. 2 officer.

About 300 more counselors are needed to meet the demand, cut wait times and offer evening and weekend services, Chiarelli, the Army vice chief of staff, said in an interview with USA TODAY.

Last year, 9,199 soldiers enrolled in treatment after being diagnosed with alcohol problems, a 56% increase over 2003, when the Iraq war started, according to Army records released Monday. Overall, 16,388 sought some type of counseling, data show. [Here’s the link.]

It’s not a surprise to hear that soldiers are using alcohol to cope with PTSD, depression, and plain old fear. I can’t imagine. News like this drives home to me the importance of reforming the treatment industry. After looking at Camp Pendleton’s job listing for a substance abuse counselor (BA or BS in just about anything and a California Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counseling Certificate), I’m pretty sure that 12-Step is probably about it for these soldiers.

We got these people, who will have to take what help is available to them, and this help looks like it’s going to be about as qualified as a my cat is to counsel these soldiers appropriately. Goodgod, imagine someone with a BA in Education and a counseling certificate (about a year’s worth of course work and at least a 2.5 gpa) instructing someone who has just returned from combat to make a searching and fearless moral inventory of him- or herself — let alone make a list of all persons they have harmed, and make amends.

My eyes were glazing over last week when we were discussing the 5% success rate, and the effectiveness of 12-step programs, but this scenario snaps me right out of it. This is when the 5% becomes important, and why the conventional wisdom that AA is the gold standard is alarming.