The History of Amity Circle Tree Ranch
Amity began as Tucson Awareness House in 1969 — initiated by some local teachers and community leaders who became aware of the extensive use of narcotic drugs by high school students in Tucson. This group began a number of small programs which provided local drug rehabilitation services to adolescents and adults over the next few years. In 1981, Naya Arbiter was hired as the Director of the residential substance abuse treatment program. Ms. Arbiter took to the work with a vengeance; and soon her energy and positive vision had accomplished more than the Board of Directors could have hoped.
Immediately, Arbiter appealed to the Board for permission to take substance abusing women who had children. She also changed the entire focus of the residential treatment program, going from a “half-way house” operation to a very intensive therapeutic community model, putting tremendous demands on both staff and residents to form a “learning community”. Arbiter distinguished Amity as a “teaching and therapeutic community,” emphasizing that all participants (including the faculty) had to demonstrate daily learning.
As a result of Arbiter’s innovations, the outcomes of her “teaching and therapeutic community” quickly drew national attention. In 1986, Amity was recognized by the U.S. Senate as a model for its work with juvenile offenders. In 1987, Arbiter was appointed by the President as one of 125 national experts tapped for the White House Conference for a Drug Free America. Later, Arizona Senior Senator Dennis DeConcini visited Amity and was particularly impressed with the success of alcohol and drug addicted mothers who were allowed to bring their children to Amity during their recovery process. DeConcini asked Amity senior faculty to work with him on the design of a federal initiative. This initiative made over $100 million in funding available for alcohol and drug treatment rehabilitation programs throughout the U.S. which used elements of Amity’s model and methodology.
Arbiter recruited two long-time colleagues, Rod Mullen and Bette Fleishman, to work with her developing Amity. The trio initiated a number of innovative programs, including:
- Providing substance abuse treatment services for juveniles and residential addiction rehabilitation services for men and women, and when possible their children.
- Developing the largest federally funded array of drug and alcohol treatment services for women and children in the United States.
- Creating a nationally recognized addiction treatment program in the Pima County jail for substance abusing offenders.
- Developing a research demonstration project to provide alcohol and drug rehabilitation services for homeless substance abusers.
- Providing intensive substance abuse treatment services for men and women under criminal justice supervision in the community.
- Creating an extensive and comprehensive series of curriculum materials.
Currently Amity’s exclusive, nationally recognized alcohol and drug rehabilitation services span three states: California, Arizona and New Mexico. Amity’s flagship Arizona residential rehabilitation facilities are located here in Tucson.