Isla evangelista - A story of church and state: Puerto Rico's faith-based initiatives in drug treatment

Helena Hansen

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


    This article describes the debates leading to Puerto Rico's Mental Health Law of 2000, which defined addiction as a spiritual and social problem rather than a mental disorder, in order to trace three competing approaches to addiction in Puerto Rico: evangelist, biomedical, and harm-reductionist. Highlighting the ways in which the evangelist approach of Puerto Rican street ministries challenges the individualism underlying US faith-based initiatives and the punitive approach of the US War on Drugs, this article concludes that the virtues of the evangelist approach to addiction would be best supported by public funding for biomedical and harm-reduction approaches within a pluralistic system of treatment for addiction.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)433-456
    Number of pages24
    JournalCulture, medicine and psychiatry
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Dec 1 2005



    • Addiction
    • Evangelism
    • Faith-based initiatives
    • Puerto Rico
    • Treatment

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Health(social science)
    • Anthropology
    • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
    • Psychiatry and Mental health

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