An Innovative Performance
Teaches Adolescent Drug Addicts to “Act Out” on
Recently, the DayTop Treatment facility hosted an intimate group of parents,
probations officers, and teachers to witness a moving portrayal of the cycle
of addiction recovery and relapse, and strategies to recognize, address,
and respond to the signs and symptoms of addiction.
opened with a moving depiction of the life of an addict and his parent. The
father emotionally recounted with rawness and honesty his son’s progression and gradual deterioration from
a good student and loving child, to a failing student, whose misbehavior escalated
into stealing, lying and manipulating his parents. His addiction culminated
in his stealing his brother’s prescription medication, an incident that
threatened his brother’s life and prompted his parents to have him incarcerated.
Faced with imprisonment, he was admitted to the DayTop Center. His emotional
tale was an earnest warning to parents in the audience to be attentive to and
to help them to identify the signs of addiction.
Moments later, a nice looking young boy
dressed neatly in a blue collar button down shirt, suit, and tie timidly approach
the podium. He carried a briefcase and seemed eerily mature for his age. With
grace and honesty, he retold, in his own words, the story of his struggle with
addiction. His voice full of remorse echoed with the earnest sounds of young
man trying to be accountable for his mistakes. In the audience was a mix of
probation officer, teachers, recovering addicts and parents.
In addition to helping addicts to confront
their behaviors, the DayTop treatment program outlines the important role parents
should play in prevention and treatment. DayTop counselors emphasized the proactive
role parents must play in checking up on and closely monitoring the activities
of their children. The counselors highlight the importance of communication,
and implementing structure and urge parents to draw a clear line for their
children between a right and a privilege. Speakers encourage parents to pay
more attention to subtle warning signs, such as changes in behavior, friendships,
hobbies and interests of their children. They encourage parents not to be afraid
to ask their children tough and embarrassing questions.
Founded in 1963 the DayTop Center, now
present in 26 centers nation-wide, has been a prototype for similar programs
throughout the world. The program boasts a high success rate and a pledge to
return children to the community who are not only drug free but mature, responsible
and productive citizens.
approach is one of behavior modification. The goal is to cultivate a “healing
family” to aid clients in their recovery. Under strict supervision, clients
are encouraged to take responsibility and face their feelings in a tightly
controlled but safe environment. A major component of the program is its rigorous
demand for openness and honesty of its clients, in a supportive environment
focused on fostering the development of patients’ self respect and respect
for one another.
Integral to the therapy is a performance piece, entitled the “Concept,” by current recovering
addicts. The performance, conceived and directed by Lawrence Scharow is based
on the real life experiences of recovering addicts in DayTop Village. It
is an interactive piece used as a therapeutic tool to aid in the resident’s
recovery and to raise community awareness to give a raw and honest portrait
of the reality of drug addiction. The play conceived in 1963 has played on
Broadway and in countries around the world.
The performers, actual clients in the treatment
center, reenact their lives before and after their recovery to depict the behaviors
and pressures that led to their addictions. The play followed with an interactive
discussion among audience and cast members.
The moving honesty
of the performers dissolved boundaries between the attendants and the addicts.
During the question and answer period, a female probation officer asked a
young addict who’d
been arrested several times, whether the fear of incarceration had helped to
deter his drug use. “Yes,” he answered with an ironic sense of
As the sobering reality of the day settled
in, participants and clients gradually shuffled out of the office at 50 West
42nd Street. Despite shedding some tears, the resonance of the lessons of the
day inspired both DayTop treatment performers and audience; the struggles of
the clients left a lasting impression.
in bringing a performance of “The Concept” can contact the public
affairs office of DayTop at email@example.com#