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16 Jan Rehabilitation: A History of Healing


Today, rehabilitation facilities are places where people struggling with drug or other substance abuse can get help from medical personnel to overcome the disease of addiction. Historically, society has had other methods to approach drug problems. For a long time, addiction wasn’t viewed as a disease at all, and even when society began to treat it as such, they had different ideas about how to handle the problem.

The first step towards treating addiction as a disease was the temperance movement in the 1800s. Advocates of this movement called for a complete abstinence from alcohol. They believed the way to cure alcoholism was to not create alcoholics in the first place and so they sought to eliminate alcohol from our society. They set up the first predecessors of rehabilitation centers known as “sober houses.” These houses were populated by men who lived together, separated from society in an effort to abstain from alcohol.

The temperance movement gained support and was one of the main contributing factors to the Prohibition Act of 1920. This act made it illegal to sell, consume, or manufacture alcohol of any kind. The aim was to cleanse our society of alcohol, but the result was actually a boom in the business of illegal alcohol, with moonshine distilleries and speakeasies popping up in every corner of the nation. Prohibition was repealed 13 years after its inception, and those looking to aid in addiction recovery began looking for other solutions.

The temperance movement made another important contribution to addiction recovery by establishing organized support groups. These groups became models for very successful organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous. Once people began to see how successful these groups could be, they began to recognize the value in treating individual people, instead of trying to address the problem only on a societal level. Rehabilitation facilities began cropping up where those suffering addiction could go to get help.

The increased demand for rehabilitation facilities prompted Richard Nixon to allocate federal money to fund addiction recovery treatment programs. This, coupled with Betty Ford’s efforts to shed light on the problem of addiction, has helped our country make great strides toward treating drug and alcohol addiction. Contemporary rehabilitation programs are in the hands of trained medical professionals who specialize in helping those suffering from this disease.

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