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MA to Get Secular Recovery Program

The American Humanist Association made a great announcement the other day, that medical authorities in the state of Massachusetts are going to begin giving people the option of referral to secular recovery programs as an alternative to religious programs like AA and NA.

The BRM contracts with the Physician Health Services, Inc. (PHS) to develop treatment plans for its doctors with substance abuse problems. Up until now, the PHS has not made it explicitly clear to doctors they can attend secular alternatives to faith-based programs.

While BRM and PHS officials have agreed that treatment options should not be limited to sectarian-based groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, attorneys with the American Humanist Association’s legal center continue to work with them on official wording to ensure it’s clear that secular options such as SMART Recovery and Rational Recovery are also acceptable.

“Compliance with the Constitution requires that participation in religious programs can’t be dictated or coerced,” said Monica Miller, an attorney and legal consultant with the Appignani Humanist Legal Center. “The willingness state medical officials have shown in resolving this problem is reassuring.”

This is very good news and needs to be replicated nationwide. And judges should never sentence someone to participate in a religious recovery program.

Comments

  1. raven says

    …people the option of referral to secular recovery programs as an alternative to religious programs like AA and NA.

    A lot of states already do this.

  2. Karen Locke says

    Still, one more state added to the bunch is a good thing. I’d thought MA would have done it awhile back.

  3. regexp says

    The state of Minnesota requires “abstinence based”. The last time I researched it there were all of two in the Twin Cities. Meanwhile there are hundreds of AA meetings. So its difficult for anyone who is forced into attending said programs to make it to a secular meeting. Especially if they can’t drive.

  4. says

    I went to Al-anon for 10 years, becoming less of a believer over that time until I was able to drown BABY JESUS in a baptismal fount.

    FWIW, when I was in Al-anon, the people I knew who were “double dippers” (in both AA and Al-anon) were usually peeved to learn that people were there because of a court order.

  5. Ben P says

    The state of Minnesota requires “abstinence based”. The last time I researched it there were all of two in the Twin Cities. Meanwhile there are hundreds of AA meetings. So its difficult for anyone who is forced into attending said programs to make it to a secular meeting. Especially if they can’t drive.

    This is the usual catch.

    No one in any of my cases has ever voiced a religious objection to court ordered AA. (Given I work in Rural Arkansas, not terribly suprising). If they did, I’d bend over backward to accomodate that, but the plain fact is there just aren’t a lot of “AA-Like” non religious programs out there. Even a lot of our court sanctioned long term rehab programs are run by religious entities.

  6. martinc says

    Being both non-religious and non-drinking, I am doubly ignorant on this topic. What happens at AA that is religious? And what happens if you turn up and say “Hi, I’m an atheist who’d like to stop drinking”? Are you shown the door?

  7. says

    @9:

    I can’t speak with authority about AA, but Al-Anon follows most of the same basic guidelines.

    Groups that become dominated by anyone will tend to lean in the direction of that person’s set of beliefs. I know a number of people who were/are atheist/agnostic and simply looked to themselves as their own “Higher Power”. The Lord’s Prayer (some version or other is used to close a lot of meetings but I was never comfortable with it and would normally join hands with my neighbors and think nice thoughts while they prayed. Some people tried to lead groups in the direction of “Christian” healing and usually, though not always, they would be told, politely, to go shit in their hat.

  8. says

    Just wanted to give an update on this case. The MA state PHP, PHS, inc. is part of the FSPHP which is an arm of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. The ASAM can be traced back to the New York Society on Alcoholism and the “impaired physicians movement.” It is a front group for AA just like the NCAA that pushes forth the 12-step chronic brain disease model with lifelong abstinence and spiritual recovery but denies a formal relationship. Nothing has changed in MA. In fact this violation of the Establishment Clause was never acknowledged nor corrected by the MA Medical Board.
    AA is in control of regulatory medicine in MA and many other states.

    They are still coercing physicians into AA. If they complain they simply report them as non-compliant to the board. It is under threat of loss of medical licensure.

    And the FSPHP has established guidelines to select these facilities based on specified criteria outlined in the Policy on Physician Impairment. Ostensibly what we have is an independent State PHP that has a list of 19 independent assessment and treatment centers that they need to do a better job of keeping track of regarding quality of care and preventing the appearance of conflicts of interest. The ASAM provides guidance with public policy statements the FSPHP provides guidelines on selecting assessment and treatment programs. But under the surface something much more sinister is going on because the ASAM, FSPHP, State Physician Health Programs, and the short list of “PHP-approved” assessment and treatment centers are all cut from same cloth.

    In reality all of the state PHPs organized under the Federation of State Physician Health Programs (FSPHP) use this same short list of assessment and treatment centers and at last count 46 states were organized under the FSPHP.
    In Massachusetts if the State PHP Physician Health Services, Inc. feels a doctor is in need of an assessment the evaluation must be done at “a facility experienced in the assessment and treatment of health care professionals.” No exceptions. And just as it is in North Carolina, these esoteric skills are only found in Georgia, Arkansas, Alabama, Kansas, and a half dozen other far-away places. In fact, the medical directors of the 19 or so “PHP-approved” facilities can be found on this list of “Like-Minded Docs”.

    http://americanhumanist.org/system/storage/63/1c/8/4054/BRM_and_PHS_Must_Offer_Secular_Alternatives_to_AA_NA_in_Disciplinary_Contracts.pdf

    http://americanhumanist.org/system/storage/63/d1/7/4131/Secular_substance_abuse_treatment_options_for_MA_doctors.pdf

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