The Reminiscences of Ronald Williams

The Transcript

So the learning experiences that one goes through, even when you’re an addict or a substance abuser, and you’re in the streets, as they say, you are a part of a subculture. You do have a peer group. There are certain norms and expectations that one learns. One isn’t born an addict, or understanding the culture of addiction. Normally. There are some that, because of circumstances, come up in an environment like that, but usually people have to learn how to be whatever they become, even the substance abuser and addict. Even the criminal. You have to learn the dos, the don’ts of the craft.
— Ronald Williams

Biography: Ronald Williams is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Stay ‘n’ Out. In 1967, he, along with five former addicts, left the detoxification unit of Morris Bernstein Institute (now Beth Israel), moved into 205 West 85th Street and started what would become Phoenix House. He is the author of the Phoenix House philosophy still read today. Williams has continued to develop and work with the therapeutic community approach pioneered at the Phoenix House and is a leader in the field (particularly in prisons).

Keywords: Phoenix House; New York City; Harlem; substance abuse; substance abuse treatment; Stay 'n' Out; Morris Bernstein Institute; 85th Street; race; Efrén Ramirez; therapeutic community; detoxification; Puerto Rico; Maxwell Jones; Synanon; Charles E. Dederich; Julio Martinez; Joe Leonardo; Pete Falcone; Addiction Services Agency; prison; Rikers Island; Kandy Latson; Howard Josepher