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Am J Drug Alcohol Abuse. 1999 Aug;25(3):495-515.

Modified therapeutic community for homeless mentally ill chemical abusers: emerging subtypes.

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  • 1Center for Therapeutic Community Research, National Development and Research Institutes, Incorporated, New York, New York, USA.


This paper is one of a series reporting on a clinical field trial evaluating the efficacy of the modified therapeutic community (TC) approach for the treatment of homeless mentally ill chemical abusers (MICAs). The social and psychological characteristics of the treatment sample were described in an earlier paper; the purpose of the present report was to categorize subtypes of homeless MICA clients to predict with greater accuracy their treatability in modified TCs. An index that consistently correlated with treatment-relevant variables was identified for each of three dimensions; Homelessness (residential instability), Mental Illness (current severity), and Substance Abuse (current substance abuse/dependence diagnosis). These indices yielded distributions that captured the variability in the sample with respect to a number of variables, including drug use, criminality, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk (sexual behavior), psychological status, and motivation. Bivariate and multivariate analyses showed that the indices were not strongly related to demographic variables such as race/ethnicity, age, or gender, but were significantly associated with baseline drug use, criminal activity, HIV risk (sexual behavior), psychological symptoms, and motivation and readiness. These findings indicate that, even among those admitted to residential treatment for substance abuse, homeless MICA clients are not homogeneous; rather, subgroup differences emerge among the indices of homelessness, mental illness, and substance abuse. The efficacy of treatment in modified TCs for these subgroups will be assessed in subsequent papers examining the relationships among the three indices, client retention, and outcomes during and subsequent to residential treatment.

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