Addiction Beliefs of Treatment Providers: Factors Explaining Variance
Schaler, Jeffrey Alfred
Huebner, Robert W.
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This study investigated factors accounting for variance in beliefs among addiction-treatment providers regarding the etiology of addiction (N=295). A survey was mailed to members of three national treatment provider organizations. The 18-item Addiction Belief Scale (ABS) assessed strength of belief in the disease versus free-will model of addiction (a==.91). Scores on an eight-item Spiritual Belief Scale assessing spiritual thinking based on Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) philosophy (a=.92), the Multidimensional Health Locus of Control scales, and demographic questions were used to predict scores on the ABS. These variables together accounted for 62 percent of the variance in addiction beliefs, (p<.001). Spiritual thinking explained 42 percent of the variance, (p<.001). The findings support the idea that spiritual thinking, health locus-of- control orientation, professional-group affiliation, gender, and the number of alcoholic drinks and/ or mood-altering drugs consumed, are each significant in their ability to explain variance in addiction beliefs. Treatment providers who believed in a metaphysical power that can influence personal experience, and those who attributed responsibility for their experience of health and illness to powerful others, believed in the disease model of addiction, as did females. Treatment providers not inclined to be spiritual thinkers, and not inclined to attribute responsibility for health and illness to powerful others, believed in the free-will model of addiction, as did males. The more drinks and/or drugs consumed per week, the more likely the treatment provider believed in the free-will model of addiction. The less drinks/ drugs consumed, the stronger the belief in the disease model. Addiction beliefs also varied significantly by religious affiliation. Catholics were more likely to believe in the disease model of addiction, followed by Protestants and then Jews. Atheists believed more strongly in the free-will model, followed by agnostics. Factor analysis of the ABS showed that beliefs regarding personal power, dichotomous-thinking, and beliefs regarding addiction as a way of coping with life are core issues in what has come to be known as "the disease-model controversy." Implications for clinical and public policy are discussed.