The Value of Meaning and Purpose by Dylan Dusoe

The Value of Meaning and Purpose by Dylan Dusoe 

This is an interview conducted by me, Dylan Dusoe. On Dr. Michael E. Dusoe and his experience with
medicated assisted treatment for clients struggling with addiction and alcoholism. Dr. Dusoe has been in
the Social Work field for over 30 years. One of the most interesting people I have met.  Dusoe2

 Originally, when I began my research in the comparison of Medicated Assisted
Treatment and 12-Step programs, you could say I was a bit ‘prejudice’ on the matter. For the
past two months, I have discovered a lot and learned plenty. However, none of the research I
have done so far is as interesting as when I interviewed Dr. Michael E. Dusoe.
 Dr. Dusoe is a clinical Social Worker and runs his own mental health facility. Dr. Dusoe
received his bachelor degree in English, political science in 1976 at the University of
Massachusetts in Dartmouth, 1988 received his Master Degree in Social Work at the University
of Utah, and in 1999 he received his Doctorate in Social Work at the University of Utah. He is
not only a great success and inspiration, he is also my father.
 Dr. Dusoe stands as a 6’2 healthy 64 year-old. He always seems to have his long black
hair pulled back in a pony-tail, constantly moving and giving his infamous one liner jokers with
his thick east-coast accent. To give you a better understanding, I want you to picture James
Gandolfini from The Sopranos, but as a loving very passionate, substance abuse therapist.  Dusoe3

 Before going into my interview with Dr. Dusoe, I feel it necessary to give you a history of
Dr. Dusoe. Dr. Dusoe grew up in Fall River, Massachusetts, an economically challenging area on
the southeastern coast of Massachusetts. Born in 1950 he describes himself as a “child and
product of the 60’s, a relatively tumultuous time.” Dusoe, growing up, was a very athletic
individual. Throughout his high school years at Bishop Stang High, he played basketball. When
he moved on to college he played basketball for the University of Dartmouth. Dr. Dusoe has
always had a service occupation. Beginning with being a lifeguard, moving onto becomes a
Massachusetts State Police Officer and an undercover police officer.
Dr. Dusoe was undercover for the police force for 8 years. During this time he worked
on dozens of cases mostly cases involving drugs. While undercover, in order to not expose his
real identity as a police officer, he began using several illegal substances, particularly heroin. Dr.
Dusoe finally got to the point where he needed help; he retired from the Massachusetts State
Police. After retirement, he returned back to Fall River. Dusoe connected by with his old friends
at “the corner”, as he cleverly put it. He continued with experimenting with drugs. Again Dr.
Dusoe admitted there was a problem and sought treatment.
 Dr. Dusoe came out to Salt Lake City, UT in 1984, where he was admitted to Highland
Ridge. On his first day of treatment, he was given a tour around the facility. While on the tour,
Dr. Dusoe told he’s therapist, with he’s ever so dry sense of humor, “you know, I could run a
place like this!” Little did the therapist know, or Dr. Dusoe for the matter, that within just a few
years Dr. Dusoe would be the Director of Highland Ridge Hospital.  Dusoe4

 After several years, Dusoe became the Vice President of the Health Care Company that
owned Highland Ridge and 9 sister facilities across the country. In 1995, Dr. Dusoe became the
Chief Executive Officer for the Utah Alcoholism Foundation. Then in 1999, Dr. Dusoe started his
own mental health facility with his wife (my mother) Tammie Dusoe, which is known today as
A/D Psychotherapy and Clinical Consulting.
 The interview started with my overall question of what Dr. Dusoe’s experience is
throughout his career with treating addiction as far as Medicated Assisted treatment. Dr. Dusoe
explained that one of the pluses, as well as negative in medicated driven treatment in
behavioral health especially in the last couple of years is that Medical positions like psychiatrist
take on more dominant role in treating clients than ever before. In short, Doctors whom once
were there to help clients become healthy enough for treatment are now using medication as a
way of treatment.
 Originally, according to Dr. Dusoe, the most common way of helping clients find
treatment and recovery, the field had Peer Support Specialists. Peer Support Specialists are
individuals who have experienced ‘first-hand’, addiction and have now gone into recovery and
sobriety. These specialists were used as mentors for individuals new in sobriety. Introducing
clients into 12-Step meetings, giving the client their own personal experience and how they
overcame it. Businesses started their own EAP (Employing Assisted Program) to help
employee’s struggling with addiction that was ran, in the beginning, by Peer Support Specialist.
 What we are seeing now is that all of the programs now more recently, are being
governed by manage care companies or, doctors. Dr. Dusoe explains this as being now a more  Dusoe5

revolutionary complicated way of the field. Explaining that now, the biggest advocates for
Medicated assisted treatment are psychiatrists. Therefore, although the doctors are now
becoming more of dominant factors they still, from Dr. Dusoe experience do not do any of the
clinical treatment for clients as far as therapy and group support. Doctors are still only the ones
providing medical products for the clients.
 For better understanding, Dr. Dusoe explains that there is now a misconception of what
doctor’s responsibility is as far as their relationship with the client. Dr. Dusoe says although the
doctors are extremely talented and helpful with the medical aspect of treatment, doctors are
now promoting many medicated assisted approaches. Dr. Dusoe used the example of doctor
prescribing pills to an individual who has a pill addiction is an oxy-moron.
 Dr. Dusoe explained that doctors such as psychiatrists, during their schooling only
receive one 45-minute class on addiction. When it comes to an addicted trained doctor, they
receive eight hours of education on addiction. To be a board certified addiction psychiatrist you
not only receive hours of addiction education, you also must have to work in the field of
addiction and work hand-in-hand with clients struggling with addiction. Regardless, none of
these fields works clinically with interviewing or treating the client, other than medication.
 Dusoe explained that what is happening now is the doctors are promoting medications
to clients; the doctor sees something neurologically wrong with a client gives them a
medication and determines that the client is now stable. Dusoe explained that this is not true.
For example, if one of Dr. Dusoe’s clients had an assessment with a psychiatrist, the physiatrist  Dusoe6

would see the client has a substance abuse problem, provides Suboxone for the client and
often determines that there is no more treatment to be done. One hundred percent NOT true.
 Dr. Dusoe believes that although medication is one aspect or an option in helping a
client, there is another huge part of the spectrum that has not been addressed. There is a
substantial part of Psyho-Social that needs to be addressed. “This is a complex illness with
complex pathways”, as Dr. Dusoe put it.
 A great example that Dr. Dusoe used was the recent death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Mr. Hoffman was found dead in his home due to an accidental heroin overdose. They
discovered over a thousand dollars of heroin and cocaine. However, they also found that Mr.
Hoffman had a substantial amount of Buprenorphine in his fridge, which is the same as
Suboxone. Bottom line, rather than Mr. Hoffman walk over to his fridge and take his Suboxone,
he risked life and career and instead when out and got heroin and cocaine. In short, explains
that this disease is not just a medicated treatment problem.
 Dr. Dusoe then went into discussing Methadone programs. Methadone programs talk
about how ‘successful’ their programs are, but their clients will test positive 2-12 times year for
heroin. “You have to wonder what success is”, Dr. Dusoe said. Clients who test positive in
Methadone programs are perceived as ‘craving’, the medically driven solution for that is to
prescribe more of the opioid type medication. This is why we see such outrageously high
maintenance doses. It is also why it is so challenging to get a person off of Methadone
maintenance. In more understanding terms, clients at methadone clinics are testing positive for  Dusoe7

heroin. The clinic will explain, at least they are not robbing people and are not homeless,
making this a miraculous success for the client!
 Dr. Dusoe believes treating addiction goes way beyond medication. The process should
be about the client finding purpose and meaning in their life. Instead of ‘warehousing’ the client
in a Methadone clinic or Suboxone treatment, we as the professional, need to help the client
find a healthy and meaningful purpose to live their life. The client is capable of being “Weller
then well” as Dr. Dusoe explains.
 The last part of my interview with Dr. Dusoe I ask him his experience personally and
professionally with 12-Step recovery programs in comparison with medicated assisted
 Dusoe described that with 12-Step programs they will often appear to have better
outcomes. 12-Step programs are based on attraction, they tell individuals to “keep coming
back,” these programs help the client find meaning and purpose. Individuals work with others
who have suffered from alcohol and substance abuse.
 What Dusoe explained as well though, is 12-Step programs have an outlined way to help
someone recover from alcohol and drug abuse. “That if what they offer does not work for an
individual. This is probably not the right place”, Dr. Dusoe said.
 For treatment facilities, where they are based on promotion Dr. Dusoe told me, “we
have an obligation to find alternatives and different options for a client to get well. As an expert
who receive a retainer or payment”, Dr. Dusoe cannot simply tell a client this is not the right  Dusoe8

place for you. Although Dr. Dusoe and his facility advocate 12-Step programs, they must find
other ways to help a client.
 Dr. Dusoe tells me that even looking at all aspects of ways to treat addiction, we as a
population are not doing as good as job as others may think. The death toll of drug overdoses in
Utah alone in 2013 was over four hundred people. There needs to be more done, but there is a
lot more promise for an individual in 12-Step programs than just medicated assisted treatment.
 Dr. Dusoe (my father) is a man who started from nothing, but with the passion to be of
service to others. He is a prime candidate to be the person people can look to for guidance and
help in regards to struggling with substance abuse and alcoholism. He has devoted his entire
professional life to researching and constantly discovering what else “we as the professional
can do to help people overcome this complex illness”, as he put it. Dr. Dusoe never forgets
about his friends on “the corner”, and how grateful he is to come out of what he went through
 When ending my interview with him he left me with a simple saying that he lives by and
is his motto at his mental health facility. “Doing the right things for the right reasons.”