Thursday, January 22, 2015

Buffaloed by Ed Hughes

Is Ed Hughes' time buffaloing the public about up?

More than once, Ed Hughes and Ronald Turner, co-authors of Baffled by Addiction? (2009), say the term addict should be avoided because it stigmatizes those afflicted by drugs, but the word addict or a variant appears over a hundred times in the book’s 185 padded pages.  The failed attempt to detoxify the word addict  is part of the overall failure of  the book, one of whose primary objectives is to absolve  drug addicts of any responsibility for their addiction on the grounds that addiction is a disease that some people can’t help catching. The concept of addiction as a disease  is widely accepted, but the  conclusions Hughes and Turner draw from the disease concept of addiction are not widely accepted. To begin with they are wrong in thinking other factors besides physiology  are of little or no importance. Addiction is a disease that has a physiological basis, but so is VD.  You contract VD by engaging in unsafe sex and you get addicted by taking addictive drugs. Patients who get addicted as a result of a doctor’s prescription are not responsible for their addiction, although even they it could be argued are not completely blameless since they unwisely let prescription happy doctors over-prescribe opioids without a peep.

 People who take addictive drugs without a doctor’s prescription with the aim of getting high bear the primary responsibility for their addiction.  American society has gone from the Calvinist view that people are inherently evil to the politically correct notion that people are innocent victims of forces and circumstances beyond their control. Hughes and Turner in Baffled by Addiction (2009) seek to assuage the guilt of their prospective “clients,” the addicts, as well as assuage the guilt of the addicts' families, the “Loved Ones,” in Hughes’ seductively exploitative parlance. Hughes and Turner say in  Baffled,  “So a person’s addiction is no one’s fault and no one’s to blame. Not the family, an unsavory peer group, or the stress of life. Not even the addicted person himself [is to blame]” (p.25). But the  majority of drug addicts are not innocent victims who are baffled by addiction but  perpetrators who are complicit in their addiction, and for saying just the opposite Hughes and Turner, for pecuniary motives, are trying to buffalo us. At least we are not sheep, who end up being slaughtered, but buffaloes, not the brightest beast in the world, are not hard to buffalo.

Drawing the Wrong Conclusions

Yes, the disease concept of  addiction is widely accepted. But the interpretations and conclusions Hughes and Turner draw from the disease concept of addiction are not widely accepted. Hughes  is wrong  in thinking other factors besides physiology are of little or no importance. In a review of Stanton Peele’s Diseasing of America (1989),  G. Alan Marlatt, Ph.D., the Director of the  Addictive Behaviors Research Center at University of Washington, wrote, "Peele makes it abundantly clear that the disease model of addiction, the ideology that currently reigns over the American addiction treatment industry, is basically an emperor without clothes. By placing addictive behaviors in the context of other problems of living, Peele emphasizes personal responsibility for one's habits. His views, well documented with timely references to new scientific data, contrasts sharply with the biological determinism of the disease model, a view that portrays addicts as helpless victims of forces beyond their control.” “The Addictive Treatment Industry,” Chapter Five of Peele's Diseasing of America, discusses the many different areas in which the profiteers in that industry, posing as Good Samaritans,  have sold the public a bill of goods. Not realizing they are being buffaloed by the addiction treatment industry, the gullible government and the baffled taxpayers ultimately pay the bills.

Though Hughes and Turner ask us to believe alcoholism and drug addiction are pretty much the same thing, they are not, any more than getting “smashed” is the same thing as getting high. In a  review of Baffled  on the Amazon website, one reader wrote, “I had a need for something about drug addiction. This is about alcoholism and some principles can be interchanged, but I didn't find it that useful.” Why does Hughes conflate alcoholism and drug addiction in Baffled? Because he understood that if he was going to come up with the money to  pay himself $140 K a year, then he had to counsel drug addicts as well as alcoholics. Because Hughes and Turner were recovering alcoholics, alcoholics were who they were best qualified to understand and to counsel. But as aspiring businessmen who could count to ten, they  knew that in the addiction treatment industry the most numerous and most profitable “clients” were drug addicts, not alcoholics. Hughes gives credit in the Preface to Baffled to Alcoholics Anonymous ( AA) and to what he calls “professional alcoholism counselors” for his achieving sobriety. But Hughes is lucky he had not sought help from a counselor like himself, who turned addiction counseling in Scioto County into a business that shortchanges  its “clients” and financially exploits the taxpayers who ultimately subsidize the treatment of those "clients." Nationally, as Peele emphasized, the drug treatment industry generally, if not exclusively, is a racket. Alcoholics Anonymous, by contrast, is a legitimate non-profit organization, a fellowship,  whose founders recognized the risks of having someone trying to capitalize on the treatment of alcoholics by turning it into a profit-driven business, which  is just what Hughes turned Scioto County Counseling Center, Inc., into.

Is There a Doctor in the House?

Hughes wrote in Baffled  that, “The idea for this book came from my best friend, Dr. Ron Turner, who has also shared the vision of helping families and loved ones for a long time.” In calling the  outlook he shared with Turner a “vision,” Hughes suggests that the Scioto County Counseling Center (SCCC), with its tail-wagging-the-dog affiliate Compass Point Housing,  is  more  a spiritual, more a  humanitarian, more a philanthropic  than a profit-making operation. The  crux of the problem with the burgeoning privatized addiction treatment industry  is that too many of the hundreds of  the operators of so-called counseling centers, including the SCCC, are addicted to money. In Scioto County Ed Hughes, with his big house high on a hill in Sciotoville,  has succeeded in buffaloing the public that the Counseling Center is working miracles. But it may be that the miracle worker's time is just about up, and there is no doctor that can save him.