30-Task Model Proves Effective in Treating Addictions
By: Yale Kushner, MA, Licensed Mental Health Counselor Intern
At New Leaf Center, clinicians treat chemical dependency, sex addiction, and other addictive disorders using a research-based 30-Task Model that, when followed, has proven effective for achieving long-term recovery. The Model was developed by Patrick Carnes, Ph.D., a leading researcher in the field of addiction, and particularly sex addiction, who was determined to find a solution to the hopeless repetition and never-ending cycle of addiction he saw.
Dr. Carnes’ research on how sex addicts attain successful recovery started at the first national conference on sex addiction held in 1985. A revelation of sorts came to Dr. Carnes at this conference:
“It occurred to me that, for all the progress we had made in understanding how sex addiction affects people, we had very little information about what made for successful recovery and how long-term recovery was best achieved.”
Following the conference, Dr. Carnes — along with six other researchers — studied 1,000 recovering sex addicts to identify the elements of successful, long-term recovery. The results of this study were published in 1991 in the book “Don’t Call It Love."
The researchers, in order to piece together the recovery process, asked recovering sex addicts and their partners to complete a number of assessment instruments, including an extensive life status inventory and a month-by-month history of their recovery. They also interviewed people with consistent recovery at varying stages of their process (six months, one year, eighteen months, etc.) and analyzed their responses. Their analysis resulted in a five-year recovery process based on changes in classic quality-of-life indicators.
Research indicated that the first year of recovery was by far the hardest. The first year appears to be characterized by extraordinary turmoil, which challenges the recovering person’s resolve to change. Also, some of the consequences of addiction continue, and the change itself is difficult.
The second and third years of recovery generally show measurable improvement occurring in many areas, including finances, ability to cope with stress, spirituality, self-image, career status, and friendships. These indicators reflect a period of intense personal work, which results in more productivity, stability, and a greater sense of well-being.
In years three to five, the addict builds on the growth established in early recovery; and healing often occurs in the addict’s key relationships. Improvements – often-dramatic improvements – happen in relationships with children, parents, siblings, and partners.
Studying this roughly five-year process, Dr. Carnes and his fellow researchers identified 30 Areas of Competency that make for successful recovery. These Competencies are necessary to manage the disease of addiction. Likewise, failure to utilize the Competencies can result in relapse.
Each Competency is marked by Recovery Tasks; and, by completing these Tasks, an addict learns the skills to achieve long-term sobriety. Each task is associated with a specific set of Performables that Dr. Carnes and his team broke into assignments that can be completed by addicts.
Although this recovery program was designed with the sex addict in mind, subsequent research has shown its effectiveness in treating co-occurring addictions and trauma.
Instead of the addict commonly experiencing a continuing cycle of relapse, Dr. Carnes and his associates developed a treatment program that, when followed, makes recovery both attainable and long-lasting.