A consumer’s guide to research on substance use disorders (part 1)

Part 1/9
This is a helpful series in navigating the literature about treatment, addiction, and recovery.

Reading about addiction and recovery can be overwhelming and confusing. Media reports and experts often make strongly worded statements that are contradicted by statements from other media sources and experts. Other times, they seem to negate or minimize the lived experience of people with drug or alcohol problems and their families.

For example, it’s very common for press releases, media reports and, occasionally, researchers to make statements about a study demonstrating the effectiveness of a particular intervention. Other times, we hear people say something like, “science shows that [insert intervention] works.”

However, when we look closely at the study, we may find that the outcomes don’t fit our idea of “effectiveness” or “works.” Further, the conditions and subjects don’t resemble the real world.

This isn’t confusing just for lay people, it’s confusing for professionals and policy makers too. And, to make matters worse, most of us are pretty reluctant to…

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