TCIE 1 History of Therapeutic Communities (Spain)

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                                   EUROPEAN THERAPEUTIC COMMUNITIES

  1. The history of therapeutic Communities, giving examples of the first TCs and senior individuals active in this field.


Therapeutic Communities started to exist in Spain in 1979 (1) due to a civil society initiative and were an answer to the serious consequences that were arising from the heroin epidemic episodes that started in the mid-70s.

Between 1979 and 1983 about 40 TCs (2) were established and classified into three groups:Professional CTs, Religious TCs, Former drug abusers TCs. The latter was directed by the " El Patriarca" with a vertical organizational structure very strict rules. The religious TCs were inspired by two associations: "Reto" and "Remar" under evangelist guidance and it was thanks to their support that TCs were able to open in those locations where the Evangelist church was present.

Between 1984 and 1992 the Spanish society suffers its worst heroin epidemic episode: increase in number of drug-dependents, street insecurity, Aids,etc.., all of which caused a great social alarm and as a consequence harsh treatment was demanded for the drug-abusers. In 1985 the goverment took up the iniciative to create the "Plan Nacional Sobre Drogas" ( National Plan Against Drug Addiction ) . Government seeks to design a strategy to fight against this social phenomenon and supports a series of projects to help and assist drug-abusers needs.They had a specific budget to be able to go ahead with this plan. At this stage it was when most TCs were founded. It is estimated that in 1990, there were a total of 120 TCs (3).

In 1984 the first Proyecto Hombre was founded and within a few years new Proyecto Hombre Communities were opened all over the country. The reason for this was that the directors of the Proyecto Hombre centres had been trained in the Italian Centre of Solidarity in Rome,which allowed them to follow a common philosophy, method and way of working, which strengthend the cordination and broke the dichotomy: professional –former abusers integrating them into a therapy that provided a global view of the treatment for addictions. In the treatment the TC is a very important phase,but for a change to take place, previous work on motivation must be done, such as behavior, ect. Shelter Centre was the name given to the first TC phase and then another phase followed, named Social and work Reintegration of the user.(4 ).At the same time work was being done with the families. In 1983 an Association for Professionals of Therapeutic Communities (A.P.C.T) was founded and in 1986 it organizes its first Conference which provided a Standard System Evaluation (5).

During 1993 to 1998 things got back to "normal" (6).Drugs seemed to have lost its prominence and the social alarm diminished . The demand for more Programs for Reducing Risks due to the abuse of heroin (PPR) and especially Programs for Methadone Support. Consuming habits changed . All these factors, also the economical difficulties and the non-adaption to the changes,caused the closure of some TCs.

In 1995 a very important crisis was experienced in some sectors of the TCs.In 1996 the A.P.C.T was dissolved, but at the same time public TCs were established. Some N.G.Os like Proyecto Hombre confronted this situation and thanks to its long experience and the training its professionals had received, it was able to design different programs and above all adapt its therapy to the new demands like looking for support in the locations where they operated. There are more than 200 programmes in Proyecto Hombre which assist over 12.000 drug –abusers yearly. All of them stemming from the Therapeutic Communities and a need for new profiles


  1. Comas, D. "El tratamiento de las drogodependencias y las CCTT", Madrid 1988.Edit PNSD
  2. Polo Ll. Y Zelaya, M. "Las CCTT en España ". Serie Monográficas técnicas.Madrid 1983.Ed. Cruz Roja y Dirección General de Acción Social.afirman que en España en octubre de 1983 exsistian 40 CCTT para toxicómanos no alchólicos. La antigüedad media de estos centros era de 20 meses. Se dividen asi: CT profesionales 16, con una media por CT de 9.5 residentes;CT religiosas,11, con una media de 11.4 res./CT; CT extoxicómanos (El Patriarca) 13, con una media de 53.7 res./CT.
  3. Roldan, G. "Historia de la implantación y desarrollo de las CCTT. Autores varios: Las CCTT: pasado , presente y futuro. Ed. IDD Univ. Deusto
  4. Guimón, J. "Pasado ,presente y futuro de las CCTT".Pasado, presente y futuro. Ed.IDD Univ. Deusto.
  5. Fernández, C.Llorente, J.M., Carrón, J., "Sistema estándar de evaluación de la A.P.C-T.T., 1995
  6. Roldan,G.O-c
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