The Addictions of William Shakespeare, Benjamin Rush & Robert Palmer

| November 19, 2015

myoutcomes feedback informed therapy

“Today, a working definition of addiction usually includes physical and psychological dependence, as well as destructive behaviors”

By writing “The Effects of Ardent Spirits Upon Man,” Benjamin Rush created the foundation upon which the Temperance Movement was built. He also played a critical part in initiating the shift in how society viewed its relationship to and its use of psychoactive substances e.g. alcohol. By the beginning of the 20th century, the word, “addiction,” began to be used to describe individual drug use that involved some sort of dependence. During the last century, the concept of addiction has undergone considerable modification. Today, a working definition of addiction usually includes physical and psychological dependence, as well as destructive behaviors such as an obsession with acquiring and using the substance to the degree that it interferes with normal social tasks, e.g. holding a job, and relationships e.g. marriage, engaging in behaviors viewed as antisocial, e.g. fighting & theft, and/or a variety of negative outcomes, e.g. loss of children, imprisonment & health-related problems. With time, many of the characteristics associated with addiction to psychoactive substances were seen to be connected with other activities, such as sex and gambling.

While these events were occurring, the word “addiction” became embedded in the pop culture. This usage tended to be less scientific and more in keeping with that of William Shakespeare, who, coining the term in Henry V, used the word to describe a strong inclination towards a particular pursuit. With time, the popular and scientific uses seem to have converged, as illustrated in Robert Palmer's song, “Addicted to Love.” With a slight modification of some of the words, any addict would be able to relate to his lyrics:

“Your lights are on, but you’re not home
Your mind is not your own
Your heart sweats, your body shakes
Another kiss is what it takes
You can’t sleep, you can’t eat…”

The destruction resulting from an addiction begins with the individual and emanates outward. Logically, it follows that rebuilding begins with the individual's abstinence. As many know, ending an addiction is easier said than done. This is in part because an addiction is a motivated behavior that tends to be idiosyncratic. As a result, there is no single treatment approach that is equally effective for all individuals and all addictions.

There is one element that is, however, common to all treatment approaches. The individual first needs to acknowledge that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. As Robert Palmer sang, “Might as well face it, you’re addicted to love.” It is generally accepted that this “facing it” is the first step toward recovery. But how can one know if someone has truly taken that first step? How does one know whether a little nudging is needed to get a client to start down the path of recovery, not to mention, stay on the path? All too often, recovery efforts fail, not because of poor therapist skills or treatment protocol, but because the therapist is unaware that the client may need something more unique, something idiosyncratic, to become engaged in the process of recovery.

The BC Responsible & Problem Gambling Program reports that their counselling services achieve clinically significant improvement and increased well-being with 73.9% of their clients. They attribute their ability to obtain these outcomes, within an average of only seven counselling sessions, to their use of MyOutcomes. MyOutcomes, the web-based application of PCOMS (Partners for Change Outcome Management System), is a clinical tool that facilitates integrating F.I.T. (Feedback Informed Treatment) into a therapist's practice. What makes MyOutcomes such a powerful partner in any clinical practice is its two scales: the ORS (Outcome Rating Scale) and the SRS (Session Rating Scale), administered at the beginning and the end, respectively, of each therapeutic session. Taking less than a minute to administer, the therapist can obtain an objective measure of the client's subjective experience of progress and of the therapeutic process.

Engagement in the therapeutic process is a critical element to a client successfully achieving their therapeutic goals. If a client dealing with addictions is engaged, they are on the path to recovery. If they aren't engaged, they are likely to give up and drop out. MyOutcomes' ORS and SRS are easy-to-use tools that enable the therapist to quickly see how engaged their clients are. If the client's scores indicate that they are not improving or they are dissatisfied with the therapy they are receiving, the therapist can immediately address these issues and, thereby, reduce the risk of the client giving up.

If you are a therapist, who has clients dealing with addictions, and you want to improve the success of your clients achieving their therapeutic goals, you should consider incorporating F.I.T. into your practice. If you are already an adherent of F.I.T., or even if you aren't, and you want to reduce the cost of therapy for your clients and potential clients inexpensively, while increasing their chance of successfully achieving their therapeutic goals, you should consider incorporating MyOutcomes into your practice.

For more information on how MyOutcomes can help, visit our website or contact us toll-free on 1-877-763-4775.

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Category: Feedback Informed Treatment

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