Integrating the therapeutic community and work release for drug-involved offenders: The CREST program

Amie L. Nielsen, Frank R. Scarpitti, James A. Inciardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


As the nation's first therapeutic community (TC) and work release center for drug involved offenders, CREST combines the basic elements of both modalities into an effective agent for behavioral change. This article explores the ways in which these elements are integrated and applied, and the outcome of such treatment as determined by subsequent substance abuse and criminal activity. Clients entering the program from prison progress through several phases of counseling, group interaction, confrontation, and education before they enter the work release phase, where they gain realistic experience and can implement what they learned in the TC concerning living drug free. Follow-up data collected at 6 and 18 months after entry into the program indicate that CREST clients have significantly lower relapse and recidivism rates than a comparable comparison group. CREST has similar effects on relapse and recidivism across sexes, racial/ethnic groups, and different age categories, although length of time in treatment and whether clients graduated do impact outcome variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-358
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Substance Abuse Treatment
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • drug treatment
  • substance abusers
  • therapeutic community
  • treatment evaluation
  • work release

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Neuroscience(all)


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