Op-Ed: Praising an unconventional pioneer in fighting addiction

An icon and pioneer in the causes and cures of drug and alcohol addiction has died.

Society should be shouting from the mountaintops about the unique treatment methods of Joan Marie Mathews-Larson. She successfully helped celebrities such as actors and musicians, world leaders, and many others end their addictions.

Mathews-Larson was the author of two national best-sellers, the self-help books “Seven Weeks to Sobriety” and “Depression Free, Naturally.” Both were so well received they were translated and printed in eight different languages.

She founded the Health Recovery Center to offer rehabilitation without pharmaceutical psychotropic drugs. Her clients ranged from 2-year-olds who were breaking light bulbs to people battling difficult and chronic co-occurring issues.

Whether problems arose from mental illness or substance abuse problems, Mathews-Larson handled it all.

She and I enjoyed countless insightful conversations as peers over the last 30 years, and it’s been my honor and privilege to refer to her as my close friend. Now it will be my duty to protect the integrity of her family’s model going into the future.

Mathews-Larson utilized her doctorate in human nutrition and her unwavering determination to learn the root causes of addictions and cultivate a psycho-biological treatment process that has a proven recovery rate of 70% to 80%. This success rate has been witnessed and authenticated for decades by thousands of patients — a record not equaled by conventional approaches.

She never stopped caring for others and had an unwavering belief that most people could end the vicious cycle and lead productive, happy and purposeful lives.

She often would tell me, “Recovery from more traditional rehabilitation programs is wobbly at best. They usually fall short in addressing the biochemical necessities that build and balance the brain.”

Mathew-Larson’s unique methods should be replicated throughout the United States. Perhaps her contributions to humanity should even be recognized by a Nobel Prize.

Let’s move beyond the naysayers, skeptics, nonbelievers, government regulators and medical professionals who have demonstrated general ignorance, rested on archaic beliefs and used unscrupulous methods to prevent the spread or recognition of Mathews-Larson’s approach and ideas to a wider public.

We can only hope that those who have had the opportunity to enjoy these life-changing results will find the voice to demand the social and medical services communities embrace the successful approach that Mathews-Larson practiced daily.

Craig Gordon, a lifelong Fairfield County resident who previously lived in Westport, is founder and president of the nonprofit NEAD Foundation that promotes the importance of proper nutrition and regular exercise to prevent substance abuse. Learn more at www.neadusa.org.