Seeds Effect Disputed

Date: 2000-07-14

Publication Oct 13 1972 Miami Herald

Statistics Conflict With Some Claims


Herald Staff Writer

FORT LAUDERDALE -- A comprehensive state evaluation of The Seed, a widely- known Broward drug rehabilitation program, commends the centerís approach but statistically refutes The Seedís claims of overwhelming success with youthful drug users.

The 16-page report, prepared by a 10-member panel of drug experts, said the programís regimen of peer pressure and group interaction has a great deal to offer the young drug poly-user.

But the report refuted Seed director Art Barker's claims that 90 per cent of all youths who enter the program successfully complete it and remain off drugs.

Based on a computer study on a random sample of 300 records, the report indicates that only 41 per cent of the programís clients successtully complete the regimen.

It also reports that of the 41 per cent who complete the program, there is no followup in 90 per cent of these cases and therefore no way of telling if the youths stay off drugs.

THE SEED, widely reported in newspapers and on TV, operates on the principle of positive peer pressure. It employs large groups and foster homes to accomplish its goal.

The evaluation, the moat complete evaluation ever done on the Seed program, was undertaken to settle the controversy surrounding the program. The evaluation began in early August.

Other statistics quoted in, the report include:

  • Sixty-three per cent of the Seedings sampled used a variety of drugs excluding heroin. Sixteen per cent had used heroin as well as other drugs and 9 per cent had used only marijuana. (Barker has said 70 per cent of his Seedlings use heroin.)

  • Seventeen per cent of the records examined revealed no evidence of drug use. Those youths were admitted to the program for "attitude problems." (Barker has said, the number is less than one per cent.)

  • Of the 41 per cent successfully completing the program 72 per cent had never used heroin and 75 per cent had never been convicted of a crime,

  • Of the people successfully completing the program, 64 per cent had used drugs for less, than 18 months. (Barker has said most Seedlings have used drugs for two or more years).

  • Thirty per cent of the records checked indicated clients were in the program for from three to nine months and 20 per cent were still in the program. Twenty three per cent stayed with the program less than a month.

    Not included in the report is an analysis of the statistics. The narrative section of the report contains a summary of observations made by the panel before the record check was made.

    The Seed, the report says, is only one of the stateís 93 programs but it has been the subject of more intense controversy than any of them.

    This controversy was alluded to in the report.

    "Mr. Barkerís relationship to the other programs In the community and other counties has become strained because of his claims of success and because of his unwillingness to recognize that they too have a contribution to make in drug rehabilitation," the report said.

    "In addition to this negative attitude toward other programs; he indicates a loss of faith in the school system and law enforcement by suggesting that members of these professions are contributing to the drug dependency problem through the providing of drugs to young people of the community."

    "The committee feels that this is unnecessary for rehabilitation of this young group," the report said.

    Also discussed in the Seed report is the size of Barkerís groups.

    "THE IMPACT of reaching 500 or 600 young people is somewhat reduced if they cannot participate in the group session. A smaller group would afford more opportunity for each individual to take part in the discussion as well as receive more attention from the counselor or group leader," the committee reported.

    One of Barkerís most persistent claims has been the effectiveness of the large group.

    "I can handle groups as large as a thousand without losing effectiveness," Barker has said.