START's History: 1969-Present
50 Years Serving New York City
1969 – 1979: The Founding Years
In 1969, Dr. Beny J. Primm helped to found the Addiction Research Treatment Corporation (ARTC), now known as START Treatment & Recovery Centers (START). Here, he proudly served as the first Executive Director to one of the country’s largest minority, non-profit community-based agency, providing substance abuse treatment, primary medical care and HIV/AIDS services to adults and mental health services to adolescents. START’s 124th street location in Harlem, New York, The Beny J. Primm Center for Healthy Living, houses three separate addiction treatment programs and is proudly named in honor of his diligent work for this agency.
In addition to his work for ARTC, Dr. Primm served as President of the Urban Resource Institute, an organization that supports community-based initiatives and social service programs for battered women, the developmentally disabled, and substance abusers. Likewise, he was an adviser to the National Drug Abuse Policy Office since the Nixon administration. Dr. Primm was the first Director of the Center for Treatment Improvement, the predecessor to the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment, within the Executive branch of the federal government.
In the background of the civil rights struggles and the Vietnam War, a dedicated group of attorneys, physicians, public-policy makers, academicians and community activists formed a board of trustees and co-founded the Addiction Research and Treatment Corporation (ARTC) with Dr. Beny Primm serving as its founding program director. The Vera Institute of Justice was a major contributor to the agency’s formation and, during this period, ARTC established six clinics in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Manhattan.
1979 – 1989: The HIV/AIDS Epidemic
The rigid Rockefeller drug laws and the rapid growth of the HIV/AIDS pandemic required more effective therapies. In response, we expanded to seven medication-assisted treatment programs, plus three chemical dependency (drug free) programs, and added on-site primary medical care including HIV counseling, testing, and treatment.
We engaged in behavioral and biomedical research that was presented locally, nationally and internationally. Our leadership served on city, state and national public health, scientific and public policy advisory committees including: the NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene; the NYS Dept of Health; the National Institute on Drug Abuse; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the White House Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.
We also established a Culinary Arts Academy to provide career training for our patients.
2009 – 2019: 50 Years of Extraordinary Service
We began treating patients in a single building at 937 Fulton Street in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and have grown into one of New York State’s largest non-hospital providers of health and human services. We work with patients with a variety of substance abuse and mental health issues. We provide both clinical and non-clinical programs for our adult and adolescent populations. The first clinic at 937 Fulton Street, Brooklyn is still in operation, making START Treatment and Recovery the largest and oldest minority-run drug treatment program in the country.
During our organization’s 50- year history, we have seen many challenges on both the local and global scale and have adapted our programming to meet the very-changing needs of our patients. The rigid Rockefeller Drug Laws during the 70s, the HIV/AIDS epidemic during the 80s, the development of curative treatments for the Hepatitis-C virus, and the recession of 2008 have all presented great challenges to START.
The nation experienced a devastating economic downturn leading to sharp decreases in governmental support for many social services and New York State changed its paradigm for reimbursement for the behavioral and medical health services we provide. As a result, we had to close two of our three drug-free programs and substantially reduce administrative support staff. While these upheavals were occurring, the adverse consequences of chronic Hepatitis C virus infection, which is especially common among those injecting drugs like heroin, added to the treatment challenges faced by our agency. In 2011, we acquired contracts for two programs providing mental health services to adolescents at detention centers in The Bronx and Brooklyn. We also began renovations at two of our facilities; one in Brooklyn and one in Manhattan. Finally, a new strategic plan was released, Joyce Y. Hall was named chairperson of the Board of Trustees, and Dr. Lawrence S. Brown, Jr. was named Chief Executive Officer.
Throughout all of these challenges, we have remained dedicated to the communities we serve. In 2013, the agency rebranded under the name START Treatment & Recovery. During this same period, START, acknowledging the need of adolescents, was contracted to provide mental health services to adolescents at detention centers in The Bronx and Brooklyn. In 2017, we launched Teen START to provide individual and group counseling to adolescents and became involved in the 100 Schools Project to help adolescents in schools across New York City.