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Dynamic Recovery: Comparative Study of Therapeutic Communities in Homeless Shelters for Men
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The Dynamic Recovery Project examined relationships between homelessness, substance abuse, and recovery, and investigated the effectiveness of the therapeutic community (TC) treatment model in helping homeless drug users move toward stable, drug-free living. This project compared two short-term TCs that were situated within pre-existing homeless shelters with a clean and sober dormitory. In a separate condition, peer counselors and staff were provided additional training in TC philosophy and practice to reduce program dropout. Dramatic decreases in drug and alcohol use at follow-up were verified by urinalysis. Length of time in treatment rather than specific program accounted for decreased alcohol and drug use. Important decreases in posttreatment criminality for both treatment programs were documented. The comparison group, starting with low criminality, experienced smaller, nonsignificant decreases unrelated to type of program or time in treatment. Major declines in Beck Depression Scores were evident, but were unrelated to groups or time in treatment. Training had no measurable impact on client retention or outcomes and there were no significant differences between TCs and the comparison group on posttreatment drug use, criminality, or depression. This report documents that short-term therapeutic communities can be successfully implemented in public shelters for homeless men. (Authors)
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