For more than 80 years, 12- step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous have helped millions give up drinking for good. But today, more and more experts are calling for a change in how doctors and specialists approach the treatment of alcohol addiction. They say for some alcoholics, the cold-turkey just isn’t the answer. Many programs now advocate lifelong moderate drinking in combination with other treatments. At the same time, scientists are hot on the trail of brand-new drugs that could help those dependent on drinking. Rethinking the abstinence-only approach and a look at the changing perspectives on the treatment of alcohol addiction.

It is an unfortunate reality that most doctors don’t like treating addiction, and they don’t like addicts. They’ll treat the consequences of the disease but they won’t always confront the underlying issues, discuss treatment options or provide referrals to an addiction specialist or even a self-help support group like AA. What’s behind this institutional bias against addicts?

“I hope to live in an America that has solved the problem of alcohol and drug addiction,” says Kevin Kirby, founder of Face It TOGETHER, a social enterprise working to build the best possible system for addiction recovery. As someone who had fallen into alcoholism’s abyss, Kevin understands the challenges of an addict’s journey from denial to remission to recovery.

Kevin Kirby talks with radio talk show host Pat O'Brien about Face It TOGETHER. They also discuss the broken treatment system and explain why we need to educate physicians, and recognize addiction as a disease just as we do other health problems.

In it's third TEDx, TEDx Sioux Falls focused on how the city can "build with generosity and gratitude." How might our communities be different if approached through a perspective of generosity? How might our families be different if we communicate with gratitude? Face It TOGETHER Addiction Informatics Director, David Whitesock was a featured speaker. 

David TEDx

Addiction is bigger than class, race, religion, or any other factor that one might hope would reduce its captive hold. Succumbing to it isn’t selfish. It’s horribly sad and extremely difficult to prevent, even though it is, in theory, preventable.

By turning addiction into a disease, officials hope to end the marginalization of alcoholics and drug users as social failures, and harness the power of scientific advances in the understanding of the biological basis of addiction to improve overall health and wellness among vulnerable populations.