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Therapeutic communities helped people to recover from substance abuse and implement “new lives”

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Question How do people recover from substance abuse in long term therapeutic communities?


Grounded theory.


3 university sponsored, nurse managed, long term residential clinics in southwestern US. The goals of the clinic programme were to help participants change attitudes; assume responsibility for actions; and work towards congruence of behaviour, feelings, values, and attitudes for a drug free lifestyle. Using behaviour modification, encounter groups, occupational therapy, recovering addicts as cotherapists, and resocialisation, participants took up to 30 months to progress through orientation, treatment, and re-entry.


13 adults with substance abuse problems (4 with cocaine, 4 with alcohol, 1 with heroin, 1 with marijuana, and 3 with mixed substances). 9 adults were men; age range was 22–42 years; 6 were African-American, 5 were white, and 2 were Hispanic; substance abuse range was from 6–27 years; facility residency was from 4–28 months; and 3 had …

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  • Source of funding: University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston, School of Nursing.

  • For correspondence: Dr M T Marcus, Department of Nursing Systems and Technology, School of Nursing, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 1100 Holcombe, Suite 5.516 HMB, Houston, TX 77030, USA. Fax +1 713 500 2142.