Therapeutic communities: A three country comparison

The National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI) is pleased to announce a major grant from The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) for a comparison study of substance abuse treatment in therapeutic communities in the United States, China, and Thailand.

Drug addiction is an intractable problem worldwide, one that is an enormous drain on fiscal and social resources. Of particular concern in more recent years has been the contribution of substance abuse to the spread of HIV/AIDS and the promotion of criminal behavior. The Therapeutic Community (TC) method of treatment has been proven effective, breaking the cycle of addiction for many, including those most severely addicted who have long histories of abuse. In addition, the Therapeutic Community (TC) approach, with some modifications, has proven effective even for those most difficult to treat -- addicts who also have a serious mental illness.

NIDA has awarded $2.1 million (1 R01 DA018130-01A2) to Dr. David Kressel, a senior member of NDRI's Center for the Integration of Research and Practice (Dr. Stanley Sacks, Director). The study will look at established TC programs in the United States, China, and Thailand, documenting the client, program and organizational characteristics of each. The degree to which each program corresponds to the TC standardized model will be measured. The study will produce translations of data collection instruments that are culturally relevant, and will examine the cultural characteristics that influence treatment effectiveness in each location. Information garnered through extensive interviews with over 1600 program clients will be used to understand how TC model programs achieve optimal fidelity to the highest standards and what contributes to the success of programs. Success will be measured in terms of retention of clients in the program, progress during treatment, and selected outcomes at discharge.

"We have assembled an international network of scientists that, through collaborative work on this study, will foster research, training and the exchange of scientific information," noted Dr. Kressel. Dr. Sacks added, "Development of this new scientific community has the potential to advance research, modifying, improving and expanding our substance abuse treatment services worldwide."


NDRI is a nonprofit research, training, and prevention organization, aiming to advance scientific knowledge in the areas of substance abuse, mental health, HIV/AIDS, and other social and health concerns in order to contribute to their prevention and solution.

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Apr 2016
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