The New SEATA Site

Screenshot of SEATA Directory website for Harm Reduction Providers

The SEATA site is poised to become the leading resource for finding harm reduction and self-empowering US addiction treatment and recovery services. “Self-empowerment” is used to contrast the approach with powerlessness-based services.

As Step 1 of Alcoholics Anonymous states, “We admitted we were powerless.” A SEATA provider will work to enhance the client’s capacity for self-regulation, with the ultimate goal (even if never realized) of having sufficient self-regulation to prevent problematic addictive behavior, rather than viewing oneself as indefinitely powerless.

The site offers only free listings. These listings should encourage participation by all appropriate providers. The site also allows for reviews (as Amazon, Yelp and many other sites do). Free listings should also eliminate the conflict of interest that can occur on sites that offer both reviews of services and paid advertising. There is no incentive to remove or edit bad reviews in order to keep an advertiser as a customer.

SEATA: Increasing Diversity

SEATA is part of a larger effort in the addiction treatment industry to raise ethical standards, as well as to provide a greater diversity of treatment and recovery options. Almost all US providers use “traditional treatment,” which is based on viewing addiction as a disease and using the 12-step approach to treat it. The practice guidelines for providers include the following statements:

• “Providers accept the client’s goals so long as harm is reduced. Even in a case where the client does not seek to abstain, the provider will work to promote client well-being.”

• “Unless a ‘success rate’ or similar statistic can be supported by scientific research published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, the provider will not cite one.”

• “If the provider pays a referral fee (or “kickback”), the client is informed of the amount of the payment and to whom it is made.”

Raising the Bar

Unfortunately marketing standards in addiction treatment are lax. It would not be surprising if some facilities list themselves because listing is free, without even reading the practice guidelines. If an abstinence, disease or 12-step oriented facility creates a listing, the reviews can bring the discrepancy (with the practice guidelines) to light.

Many other aspects of the practice guidelines, if adhered to faithfully, will set SEATA providers apart from typical US practice. Specifically, the guidelines also mention supporting self-empowerment and full collaboration around treatment planning and implementation, using scientifically supported treatments, providing enough information for genuinely informed consent for treatment, identifying treatment as an adjunct to natural recovery (rather than insisting that treatment is essential for change), looking for a mismatch between client and treatment rather than blaming the client if there is a poor outcome, involving family as much as possible (when clinically indicated), using licensed or certified individual providers (rather than inexperience and/or minimally trained drug and alcohol counselors), and providing a refund for unused services.

The site includes a brief guide for clients about how to participate most effectively in addiction and recovery services. This guide encourages finding and enhancing one’s own motivation to change, taking personal responsibility for change, and seeking early intervention rather than waiting until problems are severe.

The home page takes a supportive stance regarding traditional treatment, for those who freely choose it: “Either approach can work. However, the self-empowering approach has been underrepresented in US treatment. SEATA works to make this approach available as an option to everyone.”

An article in the Addiction Professional has helped promote interest in the site and its mission. Further interviews are scheduled with other media outlets.