A History of Drug Rehabilitation

A History of Drug Rehabilitation

Drug Rehabilitation or drug rehab encompasses the many different types of both medical and psychotherapeutic treatments that are currently available for dependency. The purpose of the treatments under this umbrella is to help inpiduals refrain from substance abuse so as to avoid the social, financial, psychological, legal, and physical consequences that can be caused by extreme abuse.

There are a variety of treatments that can be utilized such as: detoxification to cope with withdrawal symptoms and therapeutic treatments which can be specific to the drug from which the inpidual is trying to discontinue use. Perhaps the most difficult part of ceasing drug use is the psychological dependence which does occur from consistent use. To this end, some of the programs that are utilized by addicts include Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcanon.

The Start of Alcoholics Anonymous

AA was started by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith. AA is built on principles both from Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung and teachings from the Oxford Group a Christian Evangelical organization. Both men were alcoholics who were having consistent problems ceasing alcohol use. In addition, both had been using for a majority of his life. It's from their own experiences of addiction that they formed this self-help group. Bill Wilson first sought treatment for addiction and found it in the spiritual teachings of the Oxford Group. After he found success in ‘finding G-d’ he found comfort in relaying his experiences to other people. This is how Dr. Bob Smith also regained recovery; from having a long conversation with the other founder of AA, Bill Smith. On June 10th, 1935 Dr. Smith had his last drink. This has long been considered the start date of AA. In fact, by 1937 AA had a total of forty recovered alcoholics with continued sobriety.

In 1938 the Twelve Steps, on which AA is based where founded. Though AA was formed with concepts based in theology, Wilson and Smith utilized input from several early members of AA who were atheist. For inpiduals whom the idea of ‘G-D’ is a foreign one, AA can still work because the ‘Higher Power’ can be whatever that inpidual chooses it to be within their grasp of understanding. In 1939 Alcoholics Anonymous was published. Participants in AA are told to ‘work the program’ using the following principles.

  1. Above all, avoiding the first drink. "One is too many and a thousand never enough."

  2. Regular attendance at meetings, and participation by talking or listening. For newcomers, 90 meetings in 90 days are often recommended to break the drinking habit and immerse them in a culture of sobriety.

  3. Regular contact with a sponsor for support in staying and living sober and in working the program.

Alcoholics Anonymous programs have had such success that the principles have been applied to other addictions and have formed other groups such as: Narcotics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and many others.

Narcanon’s Roots

On February 19, 1966 a drug rehab program based on "The Fundamentals of Thought" by Ron Hubbard which was delivered to substance abusers in the Arizona State Prisons. The creator of Narcanon was William C. Benitez, a former inmate at Arizona State Prison for narcotics offenses. His work was supported by the founder of Scientology, Ron Hubbard in 1972.

Narconon did not approach rehabilitation with the use of other drugs, such as methadone for heroin use. The organization, however, did not address withdrawal symptoms. Narcanon has been met with much controversy because of their unorthodox methodology, affiliation with the Church of Scientology and use of sweat sessions and use of vitamins. Narcanon has received much criticism because of allegations of large amounts of money being paid and no treatment being given.

To combat concerns about their affiliation with Scientology, Narconon developed secularized materials for those who felt they were advertising for the Church. On more than one occasion, Narcanon has attempted to start drug education programs in public schools. In 1999, Scientologists from Clearwater, Florida tried to establish Narconon drug-education program in the Pinellas County, Florida school district. The school district committee heard the idea and refused to allow students participate in an anti-drug program based on Scientology teachings.

California schools were offered an anti-drug program by Narconon free of charge in 2004. In 2005, after investigations, the states superintendent of schools recommended that all schools reject the Narcanon program after finding that the program taught inaccurate and unscientific information. Having said this, several celebrities including Kristie Alley and John Travolta proclaim the program has worked for them.

Narcanon or the "New Life Program" is based on two stages "detoxification" and "rehabilitation." This involves a regimen of vitamins, multi-minerals, oils with special attention placed on the utilization of magnesium, calcium and niacin. Exercise and lengthy sessions in the sauna are utilized. An average of 3-4 months is spent by patients in Narconon Centers. Prices range from 10,000 to 30,000 dollars.

Other Treatment Programs

AA and Narcanon are not the only types of treatment programs available for inpiduals with substance abuse issues. The principles of a program like AA, however, are utilized in most treatment programs. The most popular types of treatment programs available and perhaps the most effective are integrative therapies. This includes the utilization of various different types of therapies all rolled into one. Because addiction affects every part of the inpidual, all components need to be treated/ addressed. To this end, psychotherapeutic treatments including psychotherapy or family therapy have their roots in the psychologists and psychiatrists who did the original research and studies to start said programs. Among these are Freud, Jung, and Adler. Drug rehabilitation is something that has evolved over time and has been around as long as people have had drug problems. If one were to look back in history, one would find drug addiction has been around since the beginning of time.

Works Cited

  1. Alcoholics Anonymous: the story of how many thousands of men and women have recovered from alcoholism. 4th ed. New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 2001.
  2. Dale Mitchel, Silkworth: The Little Doctor Who Loved Drunks. Hazelden, 2002.
  3. Finlay, Steven W (2006-3-11). "Influence of Carl Jung and William James on the Origin of Alcoholics Anonymous". Review of General Psychology V4: 3-12. Retrieved on August 5th, 2007
  4. Narconon The Origins of the Narconon Program (accessed August 7, 2007)
  5. Narconon "L. Ron Hubbard and the Narconon program" (accessed August 7, 2007)
  6. Stephen Koff "Top Scientologist Arrested in Spain" St. Petersburg Times Nov 22, 1988 pg. 1A
  7. Steven Koff "Scientology leader still jailed in Spain; church charges 'persecution'" St. Petersburg Times Dec 10, 1988
  8. What is AA? Defining "Alcoholics Anonymous" The General Service Board of
  9. Alcoholics Anonymous (Great Britain). Retrieved on August 6th, 2007.

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