Origins of Drug Treatment Programs

Baby boomers may remember (make that probably WILL remember) the drug movement of the ‘60s and early ‘70s. It was quite a scene. And, not a good one.


Anyway, when people finally began to face the fact that there was indeed a “drug problem” and it didn’t just affect “ghettos” or inner-city areas, or wasn’t just part of the “hippie” movement, drug rehab programs began to emerge.


One such program was operated by an organization called “Synanon”. It was started in 1958 by Charles Dederich, Sr. This was one of the first programs to concentrate specifically on drug addicts.


The program embraced a “lifetime rehab concept”. In other words, it was felt that members would never “recover” or “graduate” because that was not possible; therefore, they would never leave the program.


There are those today who were in Synanon who say that it worked for them. However, the program dissolved in the 1990s, because of tax issues (basically, they thought they should be tax-exempt, the government didn’t), and allegations of illegal activities including beating and/or trying to kill former members, and child abuse.


“Delancey Street” is another one of the drug rehab programs that formed in the ‘70s. It still operates today. Patients are required to stay a miminum of two years (some stay four), and if a patient leaves before “graduation”, he or she does not get to come back, EVER.


The program is said to have no professional staff and takes no government funding. It operates businesses for its income. Patients are not charged to come to the program; further, the organization sets them up in jobs after they have completed treatment.


Drug rehab programs have been around for a while. And, with the increase in drug use, especially prescription drugs, they probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.