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The Thirteen P’s: A Comprehensive Approach to Addiction and Recovery, Part II

The Thirteen P’s: A Comprehensive Approach to Addiction and Recovery, Part II

In part one of this column—featured in the April issue of Counselor—I began outlining the ten p’s of my friend and colleague Dr. Michael Flaherty. These ten p’s are needed to address addiction and recovery in a unified way from multiple perspectives to reach and evolve science with a broad audience. This column will complete Mike’s ten p’s and describe three of my own additions. 


7. Police


Many addicted individuals are in the criminal justice system. Drug courts, diversion programs into treatment rather than incarceration, and treatment programs in jails or prisons can help. Individuals with addictions who are released from jail or prison need links to recovery resources in their communities. Probation and parole officers (POs) need to collaborate with providers to insure their clients get treatment and are monitored. POs can play a huge role in insuring individuals with criminal justice involvement stay involved in treatment and recovery. This accountability helps many individuals stay involved, even though some do not want to and do so only to avoid incarceration.  


8. Press


Media and the press need to focus less on a specific drug or the tragic cases of addiction ending with awful outcomes. More focus is needed on what addicted individuals and families successfully do to recover and improve their well-being. I have seen TV programs focused more on a specific “drug” than on recovery from addiction to the drug discussed. I have also read in print and e-papers many personal stories of addiction and recovery, most of which did not say anything or much about making amends to family members hurt by the addiction and related behaviors, or the importance of family involvement in treatment or recovery.  


9. Policy Makers


More funding is needed for treatment and prevention services. Every dollar spent saves $4 to $7 as individuals in recovery are less likely to incur medical or social service costs. Policy makers need to see the benefits to individuals, families, and communities, and savings involved in polices that facilitate engagement and retention in treatment and recovery. They need to move away from a punishment philosophy and embrace a recovery philosophy for individuals who are no threat to society if they engage in the appropriate treatment or recovery program.  


10. Payers


Payers and other funders can promote and facilitate coordinated and integrated care in the development and delivery of innovative products and services for their members or organizations. Health and lifestyle interventions that focus on substance use issues and addiction recovery, and promoting wellness in addition to disease management are needed. Health coaches with access to online information 24/7—referrals or information about addiction, treatment or recovery—and informational products can help. Most health plan websites offer considerable information about medical diseases with much less about addiction. Payers should look for ways to leverage information technology to insure clinical care is coordinated and comprehensive, and providers communicate about addicted patients they share.


11. Purchasers of Health Care


Products purchased need to include coverage for treatment of addiction. Health care needs to focus on disease management—including addiction—and the health and well-being of employees.


12. Peers 


Peers in recovery from addiction can offer hope and support in ways like no others.  More treatment agencies need to create jobs for peer mentors or navigators, who can reach addicted individuals in ways others cannot. Better linkages are needed to connect addicted individuals to mutual support programs in the community and on-line support groups.


13. Public Education


I receive many invitations from health insurers to attend free educational programs on Medicare. I also receive many free invitations to educational programs by financial professionals who use these to recruit new clients. I receive no invitations to attend public education programs related to addiction, treatment or their impact on families.  


Addiction, treatment, and recovery are best understood and addressed from multiple perspectives, as many stakeholders are needed to address this major health problem affecting individuals, families, and society. We live in an imperfect world with imperfect systems, but there are many things we can do to lessen the problem of addiction in our society.   






Flaherty, M. T. (2006). Special report: A united vision for prevention and management of substance use disorders: Building resiliency, wellness, and recovery – A shift from an acute care to a sustained care recovery management model. Retrieved from http://www.nattc.org/resPubs/recovery/SpecialReport06northeast.pdf