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The Amity Foundation: Family Assistance for Drug & Alcohol Abuse

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  • Synopsis: Amity Foundation was one of the first non-profit substance abuse treatment agencies to look past the stereotypical drug treatment client - Published: 2015-07-21 (Rev. 2015-07-24). For further information pertaining to this article contact: Thomas C. Weiss at Disabled World.

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"The Amity Foundation helped to pioneer the concept of bringing parents as well as their children into alcohol or drug treatment."

The Amity Foundation is all about families. The Foundation was created in July of 1969 by families and teachers who were concerned about the drug abuse that was occurring in America in the 1960's. The founders of the organization were concerned about how the drug use of that era was leading to the disintegration of family relationships.

Fast forward thirty-two years and the people running The Amity Foundation or, 'Amity,' as the foundation is referred to, face new drug trends. Yet one thing has remained constant for more than thirty years - Amity's dedication to serving families overwhelmed by and often torn apart by, the ravages of drug and alcohol abuse. The current administrative team at Amity guided the agency since the early 1980's. Over a period of twenty years they have been at Amity and it has been their experience that in a number of instances, drug use is a multi-generational phenomenon. Clients who are drug abusers and failed at treatment in the early 1980's are now having children who are following in their footsteps.

The Amity Foundation, Parents and Children

The Amity Foundation was one of the first non-profit substance abuse treatment agencies to look past the stereotypical drug treatment client; that being a male, common in their mid-to-late twenties, and seeing that entire families were being affected by drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. In the early 1980's, Amity started the unheard of at the time practice of permitting women to bring their children to live with them while they were receiving treatment. Twenty years later, a number of the women who brought their children with them into treatment have succeeded in breaking the cycle of addiction and a new generation of young people are not turning to drugs and alcohol as an escape like their parents did.

Amity has been on the frontiers of drug treatment for an extended period of time, attempting things others could not, or would not, do. It is now becoming widely known in the drug abuse treatment community that those parents who have the ability to bring their children with them into treatment are usually the most successful at changing their lives. Studies consistently reveal that between 75-90% of incidents of child neglect and abuse is due to alcohol or drug abuse by one or both parents. Families that are able to come into treatment receive not simply help with their alcohol or drug issue, they have the opportunity to learn:

  • Parenting skills
  • Effective discipline techniques
  • How to communicate with their children
  • How to deal with the myriad of life's little details

Life's little details are ones that non-drug using parents appear to deal with, yet which often times overwhelm people who abuse alcohol or drugs. Parents who bring their children into treatment leave knowing far more about how to raise their children so those children do not become an alcohol or drug abuse statistic. Amity has extensive experience where working with parents and children in treatment is concerned. Amity has worked to provide a safe haven for mothers, fathers and children. The organization has also worked to reunite families torn apart by criminal activity.

A Bit of Amity's History

Pima County in Arizona of the year 1985 found Sheriff Clarence Dupnik asking the community to provide volunteers to work with incarcerated drug abusers. Amity responded and the work would ultimately lead to the creation of an Amity/Pima County Jail Project that has served as the model for a number of corrections-based treatment programs across America. From its inception in the year 1987 through 1990, the Amity/Pima County Jail Project served 90 women who were mothers of 164 children. The positive impact the program had on the women and their children led U.S. Senator DeConcini of Arizona to place into the U.S. Congressional Record recognition of the importance of treatment services for women with alcohol or drug addiction and their children.

The Amity Foundation's work gained national attention in 1993 when U.S. Drug Czar Dr. Lee Brown visited the organization. During his visit, Dr. Brown called the organization's program for women and children, "a model for this nation." Dr. Brown invited Amity staff members to Washington D.C. to present a report on, "The Efficacy of Providing Treatment to Hard Core Users: The Need for Drug Treatment for Women and Children."

The same year of 1993, Amity gained the attention of the President's Commission on Model State Drug Laws, which invited the organization to provide expert advice in regards to the reduction of violence and recidivism in effective treatment programs. Two years later, the national Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) asked Amity to present their findings on substance abuse treatment among women and children.

Janet Reno, former U.S. Attorney General, invited The Amity Foundation to conduct a plenary presentation to a nation, specially-invited audience on the top of, "Women's Pathway to Criminality," in the year 1999. The same year, Amity was invited by the Mountain Health Service of North Carolina to conduct a week-long workshop on, "Hope Starts With a Story: Women and Substance Abuse."

The Amity Foundation's expertise goes beyond the Washington D.C. Beltway and across America. Their reputation and success have gained attention from other nations in the world. In the year 1995, a number of Amity's senior staff members were invited by the President of Argentina to travel to the nation and provide advice on how to implement quality, family-based substance abuse services. In 1999, the government of Japan invited Amity senior staff to spend two weeks traveling to eight cities to formally present how to implement Amity's treatment model. During their time in Japan, the organization's staff members made a presentation to the Japanese Diet, which is Japan's Congress, concerning policies relevant to addicted families. Students from Japan traveled to America to spend time at Amity's projects as a portion of their university studies.

The Amity Foundation, Broadcasting and Publication

The Amity Foundation has been featured on a number of television programs and one of its supporters is broadcast legend, Mr. Walter Cronkite. Mr. Cronkite produced a documentary in 1995 called, "The Drug Dilemma - War or Peace." At the start of the segment on treatment Mr. Cronkite asked, "Does drug treatment work" He followed that with the statement, "For the answer, we went to one of the nation's most successful programs. It's called Amity." Why did Mr. Cronkite say this? He said this because he had seen Amity's women and children's project, which at the time was funded by the federal government to provide residential services to 60 women and 85 children and had witnessed the positive results on a first-hand basis. Mr. Cronkite was so impressed that he later made a public performance on the behalf of Amity at a successful Tucson fund-raising event.

In 1996, Japan's version of Public Television, NHK-TV, visited Amity and produced a documentary along with noted psychiatrist Dr. Alice Miller about the efficacy of Amity's utilization of family and childhood work in substance abuse treatment. As a result, NHK-TV returned a year or so later and produced another documentary concerning The Amity Foundation. The documentary focused on the experiences of a woman and a man during one of Amity's week-long therapeutic retreats.

The Amity Foundation has a commitment to share their experiences with other treatment agencies as well as the public at large, which has resulted in the publication of a number of pamphlets, articles and books. Among these are:

  • Publication of articles in the International Journal of Addictions
  • information included in a college textbook on juvenile delinquency
  • Inclusion in Mathea Falco's 1992 best-seller, The Making of a Drug Free America: Programs that Work
  • PBS and HBO have both approached The Amity Foundation about being the subject of documentaries concerning the organization's innovative programs

What do nationally-known Presidents, Senators, Broadcasters and others know about The Amity Foundation? They are aware that the organization has the expertise, dedication to work with alcohol and drug abusers and skills in:

  • Residential settings
  • Transitional housing
  • Outpatient programs
  • Places where others deign to tread

They are also aware that The Amity Foundation can and does work wonders where turning around the lives of people who were predators is concerned. They are aware that Amity helps to make these people into positive and contributing members of society.

The Amity Foundation's Dedication

The Amity Foundation helped to pioneer the concept of bringing parents as well as their children into alcohol or drug treatment. The organization provided this service despite the fact that they were not funded for it. The reason why Amity did this is because they knew that addicts deserve the chance to rebuild their lives and families. The organization knew that keeping family together during treatment served to ensure that society will end up spending less on foster care, welfare and additional services that drain state and federal budgets.

The Amity Foundation's experience goes beyond simple residential substance abuse treatment services. The foundation has provided services to homeless women, children and men, teenagers in youth detention centers, as well as in residential settings and in after-school and outreach projects. The foundation has provided services to those who are at risk of HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases, hepatitis and other contagious diseases, incarcerated women and men, as well as women, men and families transitioning from residential treatment or incarceration. The Amity Foundation has provided services to include a day reporting center for women and men on probation, extensive after-care/continuance projects and extensive Family Services, along with other projects. While there is a need, Amity desires to meet that need.

The Amity Foundation - www.amityfdn.org



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