A comparison of Jewish and Non-Jewish addicts in institutional treatment programs

Clyde B. McCoy, Jerome A. Wolfe

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The Jews in the treatment programs manifest characteristics which indicate higher status and less involvement with criminal activities (indicated by number and type of arrest than non-Jews in the same programs. However, in contrast to the general Jewish population, Jewish addicts exhibit lower levels of status (educational and occupational attainment) and family solidarity. Although arrested less frequently than non-Jews, almost three-fourths of Jewish addicts have arrest records, most with more than one arrest. Considering the generally low incidence of Jewish arrests (two percent) in Miami, Jews in drug treatment are a unique population of deviants. Further evidence of this deviance from the general Jewish experience is offered in their higher drunkenness arrest incidence and their high percentage of alcoholics. Also, the very high percentage of divorce and separation is evidence of deviance from traditional Jewish behavior. Although the present study utilized no measure to further validate empirically Glatt's theories of alienation from and lack of participation in Judaism, Jewish customs and interests, the addicts' consistent demonstration of deviance from normative Jewish behavior might well encourage further investigation. Factors used to explain the low incidence of alcohol use among Jews have been related to Jewish tradition, ritual, custom, family solidarity and group pressure. Previous research questions whether or not these factors also relate, to other forms of addiction. Our findings indicate that there is still a low incidence of drug addiction among Jews, as evidenced in the institutional program. The characteristics of these addicts give evidence to support the hypothesis that the absence of those traditional Jewish factors are prominently manifested in a higher incidence of alcoholism and drunkenness, very high divorce and separation rates, lower educational attainment, and a high incidence of arrest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-17
Number of pages8
JournalJewish Sociology & Social Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 1976

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Religious studies


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