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August 1976

About Alcoholism - Alcoholism Information, Research and Treatment

How Useful Are Detoxes?

Many of these items are contrary to AA philosophy. Their publication here does not mean that the Grapevine endorses or approves them; they are offered solely for your information.

Ontario's multi-million-dollar detoxification system is having little impact on the "revolving door" it was designed to replace, according to the first major evaluation of the much-heralded program adopted in 1971. Moreover, the system, which has created 13 detoxification centers (265 beds) and 17 halfway houses across the province, does not appear to affect drunkenness arrests in large cities, Dr. Reginald Smart, associate research director of the Addiction Research Foundation of Ontario, [said].

The objectives of the new system were to provide care and rehabilitation for the chronic drunkenness offender--those individuals, mostly on skid row, who were arrested more than three times a year for common drunkenness.

The ARF's analysis of 3,652 males and 504 females at six provincial detox units shows that the new system appears to be failing in several critical areas.

The major limitations outlined by Dr. Smart include:

The system does not provide enough impetus for long-term referrals. Only about 10% of those admitted take any kind of long-term care. The system does not appear to have effective treatment agencies for the detox population. Even among those who are referred, failure rates are high, and the rate is not better for those who arrive than for those who don't. The detox-halfway-house system may deteriorate into a new revolving door.

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