The influence of religion on the drug treatment and rehabilitation in Hong Kong

  • Barbara Sui Wah CHAN

Student thesis: MPhil Thesis (Lingnan)


This is a case study on the effect of religion on the voluntary residential drug treatment and rehabilitation in Hong Kong. The samples were drawn from two voluntary residential drug treatment and rehabilitation centres which are similar in their objectives, treatment programmes and after-care services. The major differences are, one is operated under the auspices of a religious group with emphasis on Christian beliefs as the major value underlying the detoxification and rehabilitation programme, the other group is under the secular auspices, and secondly, the difference in length of time of incarceration. Face-to-face interviews were conducted in the two voluntary residential centres for data collection. Included in this study were 30 inmates who had completed the rehabilitation programmes, 15 inmates from a Christian drug rehabilitation facility and 15 inmates from a non-Christian drug rehabilitation facility. These 30 cases were divided into the successful and unsuccessful groups for data analysis.

Based mainly on Durkheim’s integrative functional approach of religion and Kanter’s multi-dimension model of commitment, that is group continuance, group cohesion and moral control, the study is going to examine religion effect being capable of providing an effective belief system and a set of moral rules to the group and have influence on it. Religiosity acts as a support factor to enhance group cohesion and group continuance of the Christian group, finally it can achieve a bit higher success rate in drug rehabilitation than the secular drug treatment.

From the information gathered from the drug rehabilitation facilities that were visited, Christian rehabilitation facility was found under a strong influence of religious values, particularity those who were highly affiliated and converted to the Christian values, was found to have influence on the inmates during the incarceration and after the discharge, it enhances the moral control, family relationship, withdrawal from deviant subculture and involvement of occupational and educational situation. However, by comparing with the successful and the unsuccessful groups of the two drug treatment facilities, from the secular drug treatment facility, the factors contributed to the success of drug treatment and rehabilitation, except the moral control, it is the social cohesion, improvement of family relationships and involvement of occupation and education institutions contributing to the success of the drug treatment and a lower rate of residivism.

In addition, it was also found that the length of time in drug treatment period also affecting the result of drug treatment, the longer the length of drug treatment, the greater the influence on inmates.

Finally it was argued that religiosity acts as enhancing group cohesion and improving the relationship between the inmates and other social institutions. It is the group cohesion factor, improvement of family relationship and involvement of occupation and education act as the crucial factors contributing to the success of drug treatment. Religious factor is neither a necessary or sufficient factor to drug treatment success. The effect of religion is mainly to serve as a mediator to the other factors. The findings provided a understanding of Hong Kong voluntary residential drug treatment in Hong Kong.
Date of Award7 Oct 1997
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Lingnan College

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