Therapeutic Communities

Therapeutic communities (TCs) are traditionally residential facilities in which the community structure and function are agents of change, and 12-step-based self-help programs guide individual recovery. Average lengths of stay are about 12 months (6-24 months). Community members progress through varying roles and responsibilities in their recovery and collectively ensure day-to-day functioning of the community. Days are highly structured and involve group and individual sessions, as well as time for community and personal chores and self-development, such as exercise, vocational time, and educational time. TCs have been successfully adapted to serve special needs populations, such as adolescents, patients with concomitant mental health disorders, patients with HIV infection, and women with children. Successful completion of a TC program has been shown to lead to a significant decrease in SUD behaviors. Day treatment or nonresidential TCs are also available and may be more cost-effective for patients with less severe social problems to address (NIDA, 2002).

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