Thursday, May 25, 2017

Claire D. Clark's "The Recovery Revolution"

Claire D. Clark is an assistant professor of Behavioral Science in the College of Medicine at the University of Kentucky, secondarily appointed in the Department of History, and associated with the Program for Bioethics. Dual trained as an historian of medicine (PhD) and behavioral scientist (MPH), today she spends most of her time integrating these disciplinary perspectives into health professions education.

Clark's research explores the contested medicalization of socially unacceptable behaviors over time. Her first book, The Recovery Revolution: The Battle Over Addiction Treatment in the United States, traces therapeutic community activists' influence on addiction treatment since the 1960s.

Clark applied the “Page 99 Test” to The Recovery Revolution and reported the following:
The Recovery Revolution describes how a group of self-described "ex-addicts" helped build the addiction treatment industry beginning in the 1960s. Before the treatment revolution, therapeutic options for drug addiction were limited to a few hospitals and correctional facilities. Revolutionaries helped create a controversial peer-led treatment model called the "therapeutic community." They attracted powerful supporters in both business and government, and their moral treatment philosophy had an outsized influence on the treatment system that developed in the decades that followed.

Essentially, the book argues that although a radical change in addiction treatment was necessary in the 1960s, these ex-addict revolutionaries made a kind of Faustian bargain in order to accomplish their goal: their successful campaigns for new treatment options reinforced dehumanizing stereotypes about people who used drugs- stereotypes that recovery activists today are still struggling to transcend.

Page 99 of the book describes a schism that occurred at the therapeutic community Daytop in 1968. Some of the organization's members wanted to expand the community's mission from drug treatment to leftist social revolution, and the organization split along political lines. The upheaval was historically significant for a couple reasons. First, many of the ex-addicts who left Daytop founded other therapeutic communities and contributed to the spread of the therapeutic model. Second, the way Daytop reigned in leftist radicalism in 1968 foreshadows how the politics of the therapeutic community model would come to be associated with social conservatism in the 1970s and 1980s.
Visit Claire D. Clark's website.

--Marshal Zeringue