More Than 'Just Say No'

Addiction studies thrives in academia

As academic programs incubate such subversive ideas, they haven't necessarily abandoned traditional ones. Catherine Boccassi professes unflagging gratitude to AA, but says, "Look, what worked for me is not going to work for everyone. I wasn't drinking, I wasn't doing drugs—and I was a bartender." For users with less miraculous self-control, she thinks an AA-style approach "married with another type of counseling would be beneficial."

illustration: Paige Imatami

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  • Research multiplies the possible solutions, to maximize the chances for happy endings. These are hard-won, but they make an emotionally exhausting profession emotionally lucrative too. The counselors themselves often represent triumphs: Boccassi, Barczak, and Curtis chose the profession as a constructive response to the ruination of addiction. For Curtis's family, the happy ending is double. Her mother—the one once known to eschew conventional kitchen staples for Colt 45—is now enrolled in a master's of social work program at Fordham. She plans to sit for her CASAC exam in June.

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