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Profile: The Caron Foundation
Intensive Treatment for Life-Long Recovery


The Caron Foundation, based in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, is a "Minnesota Model" inpatient addiction treatment program. Such programs are based on the idea that addiction is a disease and that total, life-long abstinence and attendance at 12-Step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous, which have a spiritual focus, is the best route to recovery. They often include family therapy, group therapy, and relapse-prevention classes.


Caron, founded in 1957, is firmly rooted in the spiritual approach of Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step programs. "Many programs have steered away from spirituality," says Caron president and C.E.O. Douglas Teiman. "But here at Caron, we believe that true recovery is a spiritual experience, available to everyone,  whether agnostic, atheist, or devout Catholic." Caron stresses continuing involvement in 12-Step groups, after patients leave intensive treatment, as crucial to long-term recovery.

Family Focus

The emphasis on family involvement is one of the distinguishing hallmarks of Caron's program, staff members say. Caron Family Services, the unit that treats family members of alcoholics and addicts, was one of the first residential programs for "co-dependents," educating family members about the effects of addiction on the whole family. To date, some 20,000 people have completed the five-day residential family program, and many more attend day-long educational sessions.

A priest speaks with patients at Caron

Addiction treatment at Caron has a spiritual component.


Jack (not his real name), a 52-year-old businessman, went through Caron's family program in 1992, seeking help dealing with his wife's prescription drug abuse. He says the program's spirituality was an integral part of his experience. "For men especially, I think being opened up emotionally is a life-changing experience  and truly spiritual."


Gloria (not her real name), the wife of an alcoholic, went through Caron Family Services in 1990, before her husband got help. She describes it as "emotional surgery." "It cuts through your own defenses and opens up your feelings so that the healing process can begin. Family treatment is chiefly responsible for the fact that my marriage survived and my family is intact," she says. The couple's two teenage children have also been through the family unit.

Adolescent Treatment

More than 2,200 teens with substance abuse problems have been treated at Caron's 36-bed adolescent center. Some 90 percent of these have had at least one family member involved in the treatment process with them. According to Jim Lauginiger, a Caron spokesperson, "Without involving the families, the treatment of adolescents is simply bound to fail."

Continuum of Care

In addition to adult and adolescent residential treatment programs and the Family Services Center, Caron provides medical detoxification for those who need it, intensive "relapse treatment" for repeat relapsers, separate halfway houses for men, women, and teens, outpatient counseling, a nicotine dependency treatment program, and consultation to student assistance programs.

Former patients tend to stay involved in the Caron "family" long after leaving treatment, staff say. An active alumni group meets every weekend in New York City. Others volunteer at Caron or serve on committees.

For further information call: (800) 678-2332 or visit:

-- Donna Boundy


This description is not intended as an endorsement of this particular program.

This article is an excerpt from the Viewer's Guide for MOYERS ON ADDICTION: CLOSE TO HOME, produced by Thirteen/WNET's Educational Publishing Department. The entire guide is available, free of charge, by downloading it to your computer or requesting a copy by mail.

Photo: Courtesy of Caron Foundation

 The Caron Foundation | Project SAFE

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