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  • Erik Frederickson - Life Coach and Recovery Coach

Rehabs and Recovery - Then and Now

Updated: Oct 11

In 1935 the Federal Government erected the first Drug Treatment Center in Lexington, Kentucky. The Narcotic Farm was purposed to treat and find a cure for addicts, primarily heroin addicts. Many patients came from prison and soon more followed that willingly checked themselves in. “For years the Farm was the world’s foremost center of addiction research,” stated Sam Quinones in his must-read book titled Dreamland.


Sadly the success rate never climbed over 10%.


Even today with decades of research most treatment centers don’t rise above a single digit success rate, although their bank accounts soar far higher than single digits. Tens of thousands of dollars for a 30-day stay is the norm. The world of drug and alcohol treatment centers rake in tens of billions on a yearly basis.


Strangely, 1935 also produced a powerful movement of recovery right up the road from Lexington, Kentucky. 1935 was the inception of a now international movement called Alcoholics Anonymous. Bill W., a New York stockbroker, and Dr. Bob, an Akron Surgeon, started an effective movement under the spiritual guidance of Episcopal Minister Dr. Samuel Shoemaker.


Based upon 12 biblical principles and alcoholics helping alcoholics the early years of AA produced a proven track record of well over 50% of people that took the program serious achieving long-term or even permanent sobriety. Although hard to document, it is safe to say that AA is now producing more of a single digit percentage of success rate in the present days.


I find it no small coincidence that in the same year, and most likely oblivious of each others’ birthing, The Narcotic Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, and Alcoholics Anonymous, in Akron, Ohio, (a morning drive from each other) set out to bring a solution to the deadly addiction issues that plagued the land nearly a century ago.


Approaching a century later this same region of our beautiful nation boasts the worst statistics for drug overdose rates in our country’s short history.


When it comes to addiction it seems the Midwest has had a quicksand-like underworld of addiction issues for years and years. This dark reality of addiction has simultaneously been growing alongside a desperate hope for a movement of recovery, and the two have been active for decades right along side each other. Sadly the efforts for recovery have yet to turn a corner on a real solution.


But I can tell you another movement is rising. Many drug and alcohol treatment centers are helping, but they are not producing big results. AA’s approach of alcoholics helping other alcoholics still caught in the “grip of the grape” is helping, but is not bringing the results it once boasted.