This 90% statistic has been frequently cited to discredit specialty addiction treatment.
Ninety percent of those who enter addiction-treatment programs in the U.S. don’t receive evidence-based treatment
I asked David Scheff about it several weeks back. He said it was from RAND and referred me to his book. I looked in his book and couldn’t find the reference. I asked him about it and he said he’d get back to me. Now, Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly explains why I couldn’t find it.
“Ninety percent of those who enter addiction-treatment programs in the U.S. don’t receive evidence-based treatment” — an assertion David Sheff made in his blog on Time.com last fall, and then restated in another Time.com blog February 2 — is based on an 11-year-old report by RAND, Sheff told ADAW. What the report actually says is that 90 percent of people with alcohol dependence did not receive the treatment that was recommended. But it doesn’t say that they entered treatment at all. In other words, the statement is inaccurate.
To be sure, there’s a lot of bad treatment out there, and it should be covered by the media. However, much of the coverage is biased against specialty treatment and has a pro-physician-directed treatment bias. (As though lousy treatment in medical settings is a rarity.)
There are a lot of fair criticisms that can be made against a lot of the treatment in the US. But these vague blanket criticisms (90%) don’t help addicts or their families find good treatment. And, the implication that any treatment with medication is good while any treatment without is primitive voodoo is false and damaging. Also, the blanket nature of the attacks slanders and alienates ethical professionals who provide good care.
As Alcoholism & Drug Abuse Weekly set the record straight, another journalist defended the error by arguing that it was in an opinion section and the false statistic was used to support a conclusion she said was true.
What can you do when the journalists, who have the soapbox, argue that they’re right, even when their facts are wrong?
. . . most men have bound their eyes with one or another handkerchief, and attached themselves to some one of these communities of opinion. This conformity makes them not false in a few particulars, authors of a few lies, but false in all particulars. Their every truth is not quite true. Their two is not the real two, their four not the real four; so that every word they say chagrins us, and we know not where to begin to set them right.– Ralph Waldo Emerson