I read the April 6 article and the April 13 editorial about the lack of drug-treatment programs and inpatient beds with mild amusement. I am in no way belittling the plight of the chemically dependent. But I do question the consensus that the modern day drug treatment/recovery industry is actually effective or competent.

People think that as long as a chemically dependent person enters a treatment program they will instantly become "cured." Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the average person in a treatment program has been there before - in some case many times before. The reason for this is mainly attributed to the confounding, cunning nature of chemical dependency, but it is also indicative of the sad state of the recovery industry.

Many treatment programs are staffed with nonaddicts with social-work backgrounds whose knowledge of psychoactive substances stems from a few drug-related classes and a textbook or two. Many clinicians have only a general knowledge of mind-altering substances and lack an intimate knowledge of chemical dependency. Unless one has experienced substance abuse and/or chemical dependency, he or she will never truly understand it. If one doesn't understand the problem, then how can one combat it?

Most treatment programs, especially the outpatient variety, are nothing but drug-education classes that masquerade as therapy. Social workers attempt to teach about drugs and addiction, mostly in a group setting, to a population that already knows everything about drugs.

Most of today's substance-abuse clinicians feel that knowing acronyms and assigning labels and stages to their clients somehow helps their clients gain and maintain sobriety. Labeling a chemically dependent person as being in a "pre-contemplative" stage or labeling them as the "mascot" of his/her childhood household is not going to change someone's substance use. Much of today's recovery industry is a pseudo-social science composed of slightly delusional practitioners who kid themselves that they are relevant. Many organizations are profit-driven, and some care more about state and federal funding programs than the actual needs of their clients.

The recovery industry needs an immediate re-evaluation and overhaul, or the conveyor belt will continue to churn.

WILLIAM T. OWENS

Hammonton