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What Does Not Work? Expert Consensus on Discredited Treatments in the Addictions

Norcross, John C. PhD; Koocher, Gerald P. PhD; Fala, Natalie C. BS; Wexler, Harry K. PhD

doi: 10.1097/ADM.0b013e3181c5f9db
Original Article

Evidence-based practice promotes those research-supported treatments that have proven effective, but it rarely identifies discredited treatments that are to be avoided. We sought to establish a professional consensus on discredited addiction treatments using Delphi methodology. A panel of 75 experts participated in a 2-stage study, reporting familiarity with 65 treatments and rating these on a continuum from “not at all discredited” to “certainly discredited.” We report their composite opinions and significant differences that occurred as a function of the panelists’ theoretical orientation. The results require careful interpretation, but do offer a cogent first step in identifying a professional consensus of discredited treatments for addictions.

From the Department of Psychology, University of Scranton (JCN, NCF), Scranton, PA; Dean’s Office, Simmons College (GPK), Boston, MA; and National Development and Research Institutes (HKW), New York, NY.

Received for publication April 17, 2009; accepted October 13, 2009.

Send correspondence and reprint requests to John C. Norcross, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Scranton, Scranton, PA 18510-4596. e-mail:

© 2010 American Society of Addiction Medicine