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Religious therapeutic communities: between salvation by faith and the denial of its principles

Giovanna Bardi Maria Lúcia Teixeira Garcia About the authors


The growth of Brazilian therapeutic communities points to a return to the asylum paradigm, with public funding for hospitalizations based on labor therapy and religious conversion. The relationship between these institutions and government sectors has expanded since 2013 in the state of Espírito Santo, Brazil. Given this scenario, we aimed to analyze, through this qualitative research, the role of religious therapeutic communities in the treatment of individuals with problematic drug use, focusing on the impact of the religious methods employed in these places. To this end, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 28 individuals who had been treated in these places. The interviews were held for six months and subsequently transcribed in full. The data were analyzed using the Discourse Analysis. The subjects’ statements widely differed: 13 reported that institutions had an essential role in their treatment and pointed out that religious methods helped them, while 15 argued that institutions were inefficient in their treatment and religious methods were ineffective. The study elucidated the need for inspection of these institutions and stirred a reflection concerning their suitability as publicly funded places to treat the drug user population.

Key words:
Therapeutic community; Drug users; Mental health; Religion

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