The AA Alternative—Alltyr Offers Science-Based Treatment For The 21st Century

By Dorri Olds 05/12/16

The clinic aims to change the system so that it’s one that’s based on science, one that’s modern and professional rather than antiquated.

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The AA Alternative—Alltyr Offers Science-Based Treatment For The 21st Century
Mark Willenbring founder of Alltyr Clinic Photo via Alltry Clinic/YouTube

The Alltyr Clinic is an alternative alcohol/drug treatment program based on science for those who can’t or won’t adhere to the 12-step model of recovery. It was founded by Mark Willenbring, MD, an addiction psychiatrist who has spent the last 30-plus years pioneering new ways to treat addiction.

Founded in 2012, Alltyr opened its first clinic in 2013 in Minnesota—the land of recovery, including the 12-step-based Hazelden Treatment Center. Willenbring has an impressive resume. He was a professor of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota and a leader in research for the VA Healthcare System and National Institutes of Health.

Camaraderie, antiquated literature, and spirituality is what 12-step programs are based on. Yet they are still considered the most promising option for attaining and maintaining sobriety. It works well for many, but the problem, as Willenbring sees it, is that the steps aren’t based on scientific research.

Alltyr is based on the idea that, “Not all substance abuse problems are the same.” It provides a customized treatment plan based on a case-by-case assessment. The site’s homepage features a three-and-a-half minute video that offers a breakdown of the clinic's treatment process.

According to MinnPost, Willenbring’s aim is “to change the system so that it’s one that’s based on science, one that’s modern and professional rather than antiquated.”

Still, Willenbring comes across as caring and intelligent, and it is high time (pun intended) to modernize the approach to substance abuse treatment. The clinic claims to have treated hundreds of patients so far. 

One welcome olden-day feature is the cheap price tag. A year of treatment costs an average of $3,000 per patient, versus up to 10 times that amount for a 30-day stay in most rehabs. And we all know that current addiction treatments have a tragically low success rate.

At the Alltyr Clinic, there is medical staff to guide patients through withdrawal symptoms and treat them pharmacologically with various meds: anti-depressants like Effexor, anti-craving drugs like naltrexone, ADHD meds and sleeping aids. 

Willenbring told the MinnPost, “Rehab programs have coerced the public to believe that the 12-step system is 100% effective if you do what you’re told. They have been unbelievably effective at blaming their customers when the product fails. We see a better way to help our patients.”

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. She is currently working on a book scheduled for release in 2019. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

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