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J Subst Abuse Treat. 2006 Jan;30(1):49-61.

Contrasting faith-based and traditional substance abuse treatment programs.

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College of Health Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA.


This article (a) discusses the definition of faith-based substance abuse treatment programs, (b) juxtaposes Durkheim's theory regarding religion with treatment process model to highlight key dimensions of faith-based and traditional programs, and (c) presents results from a study of seven programs to identify key program dimensions and to identify differences/similarities between program types. Focus group/Concept Mapping techniques yielded a clear "spiritual activities, beliefs, and rituals" dimension, rated as significantly more important to faith-based programs. Faith-based program staff also rated "structure and discipline" as more important and "work readiness" as less important. No differences were found for "group activities/cohesion" and "role modeling/mentoring," "safe, supportive environment," and "traditional treatment modalities." Programs showed substantial similarities with regard to core social processes of treatment such as mentoring, role modeling, and social cohesion. Implications are considered for further research on treatment engagement, retention, and other outcomes.

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