RAP: 1970-79
Ronald C. Clark, a co-founder of the Regional Addiction Prevention (RAP), “pioneered a therapeutic approach to addiction aimed not just at detoxing the body but also the mind,” according to the Washington Post,

Clark was a bass player in the Charles Mingus band when addiction derailed his music career. After going through the Synanon treatment facility, he came to Washington, D.C. and never left.

The Post wrote upon his death in May 2019, “Many of his clients were African Americans, and he wanted to help them rid themselves of the poisonous effects of racism —the inferiority complexes, the low self-esteem, internalized oppression and self-hatred.”

“In a residential treatment setting that could last more than a year, patients studied African and African American history. Jazz musicians, black poets and artists performed and participated in group therapy sessions. Recovering addicts received nutrition counseling, reading lessons and job-skills training.”

The vintage Montgomery Spark wrote in 1971:

“The center’s approach is radically different from other ‘addict rehabilitation centers’ in the area. RAP operates as a collective, with staff and residents making decisions together.”

“RAP’s left-wing analysis of the heroin plague has led to attacks on the organization from reactionary elements who seek to capitalize on an addict’s plight through methadone maintenance or other exploitive methods.”

“RAP’s ‘success rate,’ as government authorities call it, has been remarkably higher than other types of treatment. This is probably because RAP’s residents learn that the root of the heroin problem lies in society’s illnesses, and by knowing this, the individual can better realize how to cope with their problems.”

Early counselors included radicals like Montgomery County’s John Dillingham that were supporters of the Black Panther Party.

RAP initially offered outpatient services before opening a residential facility at 1904 T Street NW in July 1970 and moved into the Willard Street property in 1973 when they were offered the facility for $1 in rent. They later opened other facilities in the District and Maryland.

Part of the program for the live-in treatment facility was community service. RAP organized to give out free vegetables and clothes, information on legal aid, welfare rights and where to find medical attention.

They worked to clean up the neighborhood around their facilities and ran workshops for the community called “survival teaching.”

RAP vigorously opposed the methadone as a drug that produced “Zombies” instead of instilling self-reliance.

Connie Clark, a co-director of RAP, said in a 1972 Washington Post interview, “Authorities like it because it cuts down on crime and makes people docile—easy to control. But all the same it addictive and babies born to methadone-taking mothers are addicts and persons on the drug are never free to think for themselves.”

RAP struggled financially in its first years of existence, holding benefits throughout the city to keep the facility functioning. Later grants from the city and private-pay residents would help to sustain it.

RAP adapted its treatment through the years as one drug epidemic after another swept through the city—heroin, crack, PCP, fentanyl—and everything in between, including alcoholism.

Nearly 50 years after opening, RAP describes itself, “RAP's overarching mission is to promote and enhance human health - physically, spiritually, emotionally and socially. Individualized intensive and comprehensive assessment and case management guarantee an all-inclusive care plan.”

“RAP, Inc. has served the Washington metropolitan area since 1970. We base our treatment approach on cultural values, respecting and supporting all individuals and their communities and recognizing that a client’s culture is an inseparable part of his or her self-image.”

“Teaching from the work of giants such as Malcom X, Frederick Douglass, and Maya Angelou who are models of recovery and overcoming abuse, we motivate clients to embrace the possibilities for their own sobriety.”
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