Drug rehabilitation: an evaluation of selected drug rehabilitation programs in the United States




Rennicks, Mary Patricia,1925-

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Sam Houston State University


Drug abuse is not a new problem. The Indian Hemp Commission Report of 1893-1894 was the earliest written report on this subject. Many of the questions explored in that report are relevant to the drug abuse problem of today. In the United States from 1909 to 1965, the federal government has passed five legislative acts in an attempt to control the flow of illicit drugs. However, the effect of this legislation has been limited, and drug abuse has continued to increase. A rapid rise in drug traffic occurred in the 1960's, and a White House Conference on Narcotics and Drug Abuse was held in 1962. In 1965, the enactment of an amendment forming the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control and later the merging of that bureau in 1969, with the Bureau of Narcotics to form the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs were means by which the federal government believed the drug problem could be controlled. In spite of these measures, drug abuse has become more prevalent, and the gravity of the problem hasbeen intensified by the lack of adequate drug treatment centers in the United States. The inrush of drug abusers into Houston, Texas, in the summer of 1969, created a very critical situation. Thirty-two hundred persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years were admitted to the emergency room at Ben Taub Hospital. In the summer of 1970, the number admitted there was 1,200 young people, the majority of which were aged 8 through 15. The personnel was hampered by a lack of facilities to treat these individuals, and the problem was further complicated by the severity of adverse drug reactions. The purpose of this study has been to evaluate on going drug rehabilitation programs in various areas of the United States, which are comparable in size to Houston, Texas, and which have drug problems similar to those found in Houston. The reason for this evaluation was to determine which methods used by these centers were most effective, so that they could be incorporated into a modular concept of drug rehabilitation, which might be utilized in the Houston area. To accomplish the above-mentioned purpose, a questionnaire was designed containing certain key factors, such as age of the abuser, length of time of drug misuse, and type of treatment used, which appeared to be relevant to the success of a drug rehabilitation program. It was the aim of the researcher to obtain the most accurate information possible through the use of this questionnaire, as a personal visit to the centers was an impossibility. The questionnaire was sent with a cover letter explaining the purpose to various centers selected from a manual published by the Institute of Mental Health, a department of Health, Education and Welfare. After an analysis of the data received in the responses to the questionnaire, the findings indicated that a successful drug rehabilitation program should include the following features: more than one treatment approach to offer the drug abuser; utilization of the team concept; smaller case load for each individual counselor; use of the initial intake interview; increased drug research; better quality of drug education and prevention programs; more use of the former drug abuser; more effective utilization of professional and non-professional personnel; working more closely with the surrounding communities; coordination of treatment efforts already in progress; and the use of the modular concept in the treatment program. An effective modular concept should consolidate all the components of a multi-faceted program physically, organizationally, and conceptually to accomplish the purpose of the program. The ultimate purpose of the program should be the successful rehabilitation of the abuser to enable him to return to society as a useful member. In the Houston, Texas, area the need for such a program is apparent, as drug abuse continues to increase.



Drug abuse, United States, Legislation, Narcotics