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Amity is, first and foremost, about families.
Amity's work received national attention in 1993, when U.S. Drug Czar Dr. Lee Brown visited Amity. During his visit, Dr. Brown called Amity's program for women and children "a model for this nation."
 

 

Amity Experience and Expertise

Amity is, first and foremost, about families. Amity was founded in July 1969 by families and teachers who were concerned about the drug abuse that swept our nation in the 1960s. The founders were concerned about how the drug use of that era was leading to disintegrating family relations.

Thirty-two years later, the people running Amity face new drug use trends, but one thing has remained constant for more than three decades: Amity's dedication to serving families overwhelmed, and often ripped apart, by the ravages of alcohol and drug abuse.

Amity's current administrative team guided the agency since the early 1980s. Over the two decades they have been at Amity, it has been their experience that in many cases drug use is a multi-generational phenomenon. Drug-abusing clients who failed at treatment in the early 1980s are now having children who follow in their footsteps.

Amity was one of the first non-profit substance abuse treatment agencies to look beyond the stereotypical drug treatment client - that being a male, usually in his mid- to late-20s - and see that entire families were being affected by alcohol and drug abuse and addiction. In the early 1980s, Amity began the then-unheard of practice of allowing women to bring their children to live with them while they were in treatment. Now, nearly twenty years later, many of the women who brought their children with them into treatment have broken the cycle of addiction and a new generation of young people are not turning to drugs as an escape, as their parents did.

Amity has long been on the frontiers of drug treatment, trying things that others could not - or would not - do. It is now becoming widely known in the drug abuse treatment community that those parents who are able to bring their children with them into treatment are usually the most successful at turning around their lives. Studies consistently show that between 75 and 90 percent of incidents of child abuse and neglect is due to the abuse of alcohol and/or drugs by a parent, or by both parents. Families that are able to come into treatment receive not just help with their drug problems, but they have the chance to learn parenting skills, effective discipline techniques, how to communicate with their children, and how to deal with the myriad of life's little details that non-drug using parents seem to deal with, but which often overwhelm people who are in an alcohol or drug-induced haze. Parents who bring their children into treatment leave knowing so much more about how to raise their children so that they in turn don't become tomorrow's statistics.

Amity has extensive experience working with parents and children in treatment. For more than twenty years - since allowing those first few women to bring their children with them into treatment - Amity has worked to provide a safe haven for mothers, fathers and kids. We also have worked to reunite families torn apart by criminal activity.

In 1985, Pima County (Arizona) Sheriff Clarence Dupnik asked the community to provide volunteers to work with incarcerated drug abusers. Amity responded to his call, and that work would ultimately lead to the creation of an Amity/Pima County Jail Project that has served as the model for numerous corrections-based treatment programs across the nation. From its inception in 1987 until 1990, the Amity/Pima County Jail Project served 90 women, who were the mothers of a collective 164 children. The positive impact that program had on those women and their children led then U.S. Sen. DeConcini (D-Ariz.) to place into the U.S. Congressional Record recognition of the importance for treatment services for addicted women and their children.

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

In 1993, Amity drew the attention of the President's Commission on Model State Drug Laws, which invited Amity to provide expert advice regarding recidivism and violence reduction in effective treatment programs. Two years later, in 1995, the national Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) asked Amity to present our findings on substance abuse treatment among women and children.

Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno invited Amity in 1999 to conduct a plenary presentation to a national, specially-invited audience on the topic of "Women's Pathway to Criminality." Also in 1999, Amity was invited by the Mountain Health Service of North Carolina to conduct a weeklong workshop on, "Hope Starts With a Story: Women and Substance Abuse."

Amity's expertise extends beyond the Washington D.C. Beltway and across the United States; our reputation and success have drawn attention from other nations. In 1995, several Amity senior staff were invited by the President of Argentina to travel to that South American country 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, Amity's staff made a presentation the Japanese Diet - that nation's Congress -- about policies relevant to addicted families. Students from Japan travel to the United Stated to spend time at Amity's projects as part of their university studies.

Recently, one of the Republics formed in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union has contacted Amity and asked us to come to their nation and help them set up a program similar to Amity.

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

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

Amity also has a commitment to share our experiences with other treatment agencies and the public, which has resulted in the publication of numerous books, articles and pamphlets. Among these are publication of articles in the International Journal of Addictions, information included in a college textbook on juvenile delinquency, and our inclusion in Mathea Falco's 1992 best-seller, The Making of a Drug Free America: Programs that Work. In the past month, both HBO and PBS have approached Amity about being the topic of documentaries regarding our innovative programs.

What do nationally-known broadcasters, senators, presidents of foreign nations and others know about Amity? They know we have the expertise, the skill and the dedication to work with alcohol and drug abusers - in jails and prisons, in outpatient programs, in residential settings, in transitional housing, in places where others deign to tread - and that we can and do work wonders in turning around the lives of people who were predators and in making them positive, contributing members of society.

Amity helped pioneer the concept of bringing parents and their children into treatment. We provided this service even when we weren't funded for it. Why? Because we knew, first, that addicts deserve the opportunity to rebuild their lives and their families. And we knew, second, that keeping a family together during treatment only served to ensure that society will end up spending less on welfare, foster care, and other human services that drain state
and federal budgets.

Amity's experience extends beyond simply residential substance abuse treatment services. We currently, or in the past, have provided services to homeless men, women and children; adolescents in both youth detention centers, as well as in a residential setting and in after-school and outreach projects; people who are at-risk of HIV/AIDS, other sexually-transmitted diseases, hepatitis and other contagious illnesses; incarcerated men and women; men, women and families transitioning from residential treatment or incarceration to the greater community; those in out-patient settings, including a day reporting center for men and women on probation; extensive after-care/continuance projects, as well as equally extensive Family Services offering; and numerous other projects. If there is a need, Amity seeks ways to meet that need. It has been doing so for more than three decades, and expects to do so for decades to come.

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