John Herbert Brooks

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Marker location on the northwest corner of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. and Arctic Avenue

Historical Marker text:

An Atlantic City native, Brooks spent his early years in a life and death struggle with drug addiction. After conquering his own addiction, he worked to deter others from substance abuse. In 1969, Brooks co-founded NARCO, Inc., and, with volunteers, began to treat alcohol addiction. Several years later the group incorporated as the Institute for Human Development (IHD), a substance abuse program that set the bar for treatment programs across the nation. He served as the Institute's Executive Director from it inception to 1993. "The Institute" became one of the largest drug and alcohol treatment facilities in the State of New Jersey. Mr. Brooks studied business administration, human resources and psychology at Atlantic Community College and Rutgers University to enhance his skills. As a frontline soldier in the war against drug abuse, Brooks changed many people's lives for the better, and for that this community salutes his valiant efforts


Additional information:

John Brooks was born in Atlantic City, and attended its public schools. He received degrees in General Education, Business Administration, and Human Resources from Rutgers University, and a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Atlantic Community College. He served in the Navy in the 1950s as a medical seaman and received an honorable discharge. However, Brooks spent much of the 1960s serving jail sentences for his drug addiction. One day, while outside with a prison work crew, Brooks noticed a group of flies circling from one pile of manure to another. He compared his life and his reliance on drugs to those flies, and decided to kick his addiction. In 1969, he founded NARCO in a storefront near St. Augustine's Church. While initially faced with opposition from politicians and police who did not think the program would work, NARCO grew and has saved thousands of lives. It became the Institute for Human Development, one of the largest treatment facilities in the state, with a $6.3 million budget. The facility has 116 beds, and treats an additional 500 outpatients daily. As a result of Brooks's work, he received a pardon from the governor in 1981, and his previous criminal record was expunged.

For more information, see these resources in the Atlantic City Free Public Library, Atlantic City Heritage Collections:
Atlantic City Press, articles from December 17, 2005, December 16, 2005, December 14, 2005, and December 10, 2005