NOT SMART: GUARDIAN MISQUOTES
Dr Joe Gerstein, founding president of Smart Recovery USA, was misquoted in the Guardian newspaper on 10 March as attacking AA - and the story was carried across the Atlantic to JoinTogether. He puts the record straight through Laura Graham and Addiction Today.
Gerstein was in London last week, to attend the Smart Recovery conference, Developing Choice in Peer-Support. While here he gave an interview to Denis Campbell at the Guardian newspaper, to attract positive attention to options in recovery. However, when the article was printed on 10 March it was clear that Gerstein had been misquoted, leaving readers with the mistaken impression that Smart Recovery is an anti-AA organisation. He has welcomed the opportunity from Addiction Today to clarify this misrepresentation.
The quotation attributed to Gerstein in paragraph four of the Guardian article was taken out of context in a way which completely altered the meaning. Joe did not say that AA was “ethically wrong, medically wrong and psychologically wrong” as printed.
He did say that “The coercion of people into attending AA meetings is unethical…” but the Guardian chose not to include the proceeding words. Gerstein believes coercion into any self-help group to be unethical - including coercion into Smart Recovery.
AA IS "ABSOLUTELY REMARKABLE"
Also, the printed misquote completely contradicts what was is previously stated whereby Gerstein acknowledges AA as an “absolutely remarkable programme” given that millions have found it useful over the past 75 years.
In anticipation of possible mischaracterisation, Gerstein took the step of emailing Campbell after the interview in order to clarify his position. In an email dated 4 March, he writes “I want to be sure that one of the points of our discussion is that Smart Recovery is not anti-AA. We are anti-absence-of-choice in addiction care. In fact, an informal survey of Smart Recovery attendees in Massachusetts who consider Smart Recovery their primary approach to recovery indicated that about 25% also attended AA meetings occasionally. We have absolutely no problem with that.
"Both research and logic indicates that choosing your own recovery pathway is more likely to lead to success. I mention this because reporters sometimes present the alternatives as some sort of contest between the two programmes."
LETTERS OF COMPLAINT
A letter of complaint has been sent to the Guardian in the reasonable hope that a corrective statement will be printed. This letter has been copied to Paul Hayes at the National Treatment Agency, as he recently engaged the Guardian in the NTA's stated “recovery and reintegration” agenda.