The Ontario Detoxication System: An Evaluation of its Effectiveness
The past 10 years have seen a major re-orientation in North America in the handling of the public inebriate or chronic drunkenness offender. Since about 1968 many states and provinces have been establishing alternatives to the old “revolving door” — that is the cycle of intoxication, arrest, trial, short term jail term then new intoxication, etc. Under this system police typically arrested only those drunks creating a disturbance or homeless alcoholics. The most typical changes to the older revolving door have been to replace jails with voluntary detoxification centres and halfway houses. Although these changes might have been defended solely on humanitarian grounds usually they were not. It was usually expected that the new non-criminal system would be rehabilitative for the inebriate and that there would be a major reduction in drunkenness arrests. Very few evaluations of any detoxication facility have been made which indicate what rehabilitative effects they have. The present study is believed to be the only one for a detoxication system in a large area — the province of Ontario. The aims of the current evaluation were to, (i) identify the effects of the system on drunkenness arrests, (ii) the nature of the population served by the system, and (iii) the extent of rehabilitation provided for the systems clients.
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