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Bill White’s Reflections on Eagleville Hospital’s 50th Anniversary in Addiction Treatment

No addictions field existed in the early 1970s. There was an “alcoholism field” and a “drug abuse field,” each viewing the other with considerable suspicion and condescension. The separation in the two fields, which on the surface reflected a difference in drug choice, also reflected deep generational differences and differences in ethnicity and social class. Quite different people in quite separate worlds. Separate treatment organizations. Separate federal and state funding and regulatory agencies. Separate counselor credentialing bodies. Separate professional associations. Bringing these fields together was at best like mixing oil and water and at worst like mixing gasoline and fire. And yet they did come together—amidst enormous emotional debate and conflict. Anyone stepping into the middle of this debate did so at great personal and organizational risk.

The singular institution leading clinical integration of the two fields was Eagleville Hospital; the singular person at the front lines of this movement was Dr. Don Ottenberg. Don represented the visionary voices within the field who believed that the conceptual, clinical, and organizational integration of these two fields was an essential step in enhancing the future of addiction recovery in the United States and beyond. In retrospect, he was correct, and this integration would not have been possible without the leadership of Don and the early staff of Eagleville. Don and Eagleville would go on to make other important contributions, but none was more historically important than its advancements in what was then called “combined treatment.”

I had the distinct honor of working with Don, Dr. Jerome Carroll, and other Eagleville staff over the course of my early career and visiting Eagleville to participate in their professional conferences. My professional life and that of many of my peers were deeply enriched by such contact and by the penetrating observations, candid truths, and encouragement that Don and other Eagleville staff shared so freely and humbly. Eagleville played and continues to play an important chapter in the history of addiction treatment and recovery in America. I wish all who have supported this effort my deepest acknowledgement and appreciation on the fiftieth anniversary of this groundbreaking work.

William L. White
Emeritus Sr. Research Consultant, Chestnut Health Systems
Author: Slaying the Dragon: The History of Addiction Treatment and Recovery in America

SAVE THE DATE: July 28, 2016
Join Us to Celebrate our 50th Anniversary
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We are proud that Eagleville Hospital has been providing drug and alcohol treatment since 1966! You are cordially invited to attend our Golden Anniversary Celebration. Please join us for food, special guest speakers, and an open mic where guests can share their recovery experiences and their gratitude. Light refreshments begin at 2:00PM. Eagleville Hospital, 100 Eagleville Road, Eagleville, PA 19403.

For more information or questions about the event call 610.539.6000 Ext. 0 or e-mail us at: friendsofeagleville@eagleville.org

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