Today's Addiction Epidemic

Of the many thousands of treatment programs out there, most use exactly the same kind of treatment you would have received in 1950, not modern scientific approaches.
— Thomas McLellan, co-founder of the Treatment Research Institute in Philadelphia

Addiction is now over a $600B per year problem, devastating the lives of over 23 Million Americans.  Those staggering numbers do not tell the whole story.  Addiction is a misunderstood chronic condition that rips apart families and destroys lives.  However, today's acute addiction treatment approaches, relied on for decades to address and treat addiction, are ineffective, primarily because they are incomplete—an acute treatment will not effectively treat a chronic condition.

Addiction in the United States has reached epidemic proportions

This is the worst drug epidemic in U.S. history.
— Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  • At least 50% of American Adults have a close family member with alcoholism
  • Heroin use is skyrocketing; In 2012 there were 669,000 heroin users versus 373,000 heroin users in 2007
  • 1% of all 8-graders have tried heroin, according to a 2013 study
  • 23% of those who try heroin become addicted
  • Chicagoland ER’s have 3 times the number of heroin overdoses than the national average
  • In 2010, prescription pain killers were involved in 16,600 overdose deaths
  • More Americans now die of overdoses than car crashes
  • One death every 10 seconds worldwide from the harmful use of alcohol
  • Employees with alcohol related problems have twice the health care costs of their peers

The Current Approach to Treatment is Failing 

Chemical Dependency is a chronic condition.  Current treatment approaches rely on an acute methodology, which is unsuccessful on many levels.  While there is a lot of discussion about how current methods are failing our addicts and failing our families, the acute approach continues to be the standard of care in this country.   The Plahn Method takes an alternative approach to treat a chronic condition with a comprehensive long-term solution that results in lasting recovery.  

Thirty days of treatment isn’t enough. It’s not enough time to treat cancer, or obesity, or any chronic relapsing disease. The same goes when treating addiction and mental illness.
— Jacqueline Duda, Inside Rehab
People with a chronic form of addiction need multimodal treatment that is individualized and offered continuously or intermittently for as long as they need it.
— National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2013
If addiction is best considered a chronic condition, then we are not providing appropriate treatment.
— Thomas A McLellan, Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
Addiction hurts the whole family, it is absolutely essential that solutions are designed to restore the whole family.
— National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence

Addiction is a Family Disease

Families are ripped apart by addiction - it is commonly referred to as a family disease where loved ones hold the key to recovery.  However, the current acute model basically exposes the dysfunction and interpersonal conflict, without long-term resolution.  It rips open the wounds but does not support the healing.

Desperate to overcome the misery produced by addiction, concerned loved ones (or addicted individuals themselves) call friends, therapists, or family doctors, and even search the Internet.  Often they uncover conflicting information that produces confusion and at best will lead to one result, “get the addicted family member to treatment”.   We are predisposition to think that this (a 30/60/90 day program) alone will be the solution, regardless of how many times this may have been attempted in the past.  

"Treatment" - the current acute methodology - alone demonstrates outcomes that University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Medical School estimate as success rates of 10-30% in the first year alone.  While many believe the success rates to be markedly lower, these statistics are based solely on abstinence, and do not reflect the current state of the family, or the quality of life measures known to be essential for long-term change.

Where the Current Acute Model Breaks Down

Since the 1950s, and still today, the accepted treatment approach (for drug addiction, alcohol addiction, alcoholism, and even dual diagnosis) is to use an acute model.  Thus, a 30-day or 90-day intensive addiction treatment with aftercare suggestions upon program completion, is the approach used to attempt to address this debilitating, life-threatening chronic condition.   Here is why the breakdown occurs...

PRE-TREATMENT (During Active Addiction)

In the midst of a crisis, a concerned family member (or desperate addicted individual) frantically seeks a solution to the addiction nightmare (be it heroin addiction, alcoholism, prescription drug addiction, or a dual diagnosis condition).  This may mean calling the family physician, counselor, friend known to be ‘in recovery,’ or scouring the Internet.  Whether the first attempt at addiction treatment, or the tenth, the goal tends to be centered on finding ‘the best addiction treatment facility or hospital’.  Some families even have the foresight, or guidance, to engage an Interventionist, to assist a resistant addicted loved one to accept help.  However, selecting the type of treatment, and specific facility, from the thousands of options is largely left up to the family in crisis.


There are various levels and types of treatment.  While addiction treatment tends to be lumped together into one category and simply referred to as "treatment", the quality of care delivered by treatment facilities can vastly differ. The typical duration of services for chemical dependency is roughly 30-days in length and delivered via some form of outpatient services (some private pay residential programs offer 90-day programming).  Most programs will offer some type of services for the family—ranging from 1-2 hours per week to a 3-4 day Family Program, typically offered at top-tier residential facilities.


Discharge, even for many exclusive residential treatment facilities occurs around 30-days post-admission.  The newly recovering person usually then returns home, or moves to a Sober Living facility.  Aftercare services such as counseling or sessions with a psychiatrist (if deemed appropriate) are commonplace, however, the onus is placed on attending 12-Step meetings as the solution.

You don’t treat a chronic illness for four weeks and then send the patient to a support group.
— Dr. Mark Willenbring, Former Director of Treatment and Recovery Research at the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

There is a Solution

To build and implement a success story where an addicted loved one and their concerned family and loved ones overcome addiction and the several gaps in today's current approach, the following key points must be included:

  • Guidance, support and objective advocacy
  • An individualized plan
  • A long-term solution
  • An Intervention
  • Help for the entire family

Trying to deal with the emotional swings that accompany active addiction make it difficult to simply navigate the day.  Researching, assembling, and executing a complex plan, and sourcing the resources to implement the changes needed to attain long-term recovery, is simply unrealistic.  This is a misleading, confusing, and frustrating proposition for even trained professionals to manage for their own family; they would lack the needed objectivity even if they had the expertise.  

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry.
— American Society of Addiction Medicine

Addiction is a chronic condition, so a long-term execution of customized multi-disciplinary resources is needed for resolution.  Based on specific needs, a plan is needed for the addicted person, concerned loved ones, and the family as a whole. 

A common misperception exists that a family must wait for a loved one, suffering from addiction, to “hit a bottom” to recover.  A sudden and sustained contrite positive attitude, with the desire to do whatever it takes to change, can be a deadly unrealistic expectation of an addict. Thus, an Intervention may be needed to gain recovery acceptance and "lift the bottom" for the addict or alcoholic.

As addiction affects the entire family, it is important to involve the entire family to facilitate change.  A lasting solution requires an integrated plan for the addicted person and their loved ones.  The family needs to recover - not just the addict or alcoholic.

There is finally a solution to overcome addiction and find lasting recovery.  As a complement to the acute treatment approach, The Plahn Method solves for these issues by leveraging a fully customized program that works for the entire family - for the long-term.