|Medical and faith-based rehabilitation programs for drug addicts|
|July 21, 2008|
July 21, 2008
Illicit drug abuse and addiction is a major problem in countries all over the world, and Georgia is no exception.
Governmental statistics claim that only 19,000 people are addicted to drugs in Georgia, but experts say that it could easily be five or even six times higher in reality.
There are several programs and methods to help people to ‘get clean,’ free of drugs. The use of ‘Methadone’ – a controlled substitute drug for heroin users – is becoming more popular in Georgia and is currently in operation at the Mikhail Asatiani Psychiatric Research Institute in Tbilisi.
Dr Khatuna Todadze, the Methadone program coordinator, explained that this form of rehabilitation for heroin addicts is widely practiced worldwide and that it is one of the most effective method for beating heroin dependency.
“Methadone is a rigorously tested medicine which is used for the treatment of narcotic withdrawal and dependence. It is really very effective here. Many young people come here just asking for help but unfortunately not all of them get into the program. Because the funding is limited, we cannot treat more than 60 persons,” Dr Todadze explained.
According to the program coordinator this is a pilot program, which is funded by the international organization Global Fund. The treatment for the patients is absolutely free of charge. The program coordinators say that this kind of treatment has only positive effects.
Not everyone agrees, however, that Methodone is the best way to treat drug addicts. Psychologist, Dr Manana Sologashvili, claims that people who try to give up drug their addiction with medicine simply swap one addition for another. She explained that their addiction is more psychological than physical, and that medication should not be their only treatment. Sologashvili is involved in another drug addict rehabilitation program. ‘Try to be happy!’ is the name of the program for drug addicts which is run by the Anti-Violence Network of Georgia NGO and the Monasteries of Tabori, Martkopi, Tsalka and Mtskheta. The leader of these monasteries is Hygumen Barthlome. “These people should feel support from everyone,” said Barthlome.
“People who are drug addicts can never be completely cured. We have to control this disease all the time,” said Dr. Sologashvili. In this program the drug addicts live in the monasteries for some time with the same rules as the monks. During their stay, they meet with psychologists and other drug addicts around the table discussing about their life, disease, problems and emotions.
One of the most important features of this project is the former drug users who council the addicts alongside the monks and the psychologists. 25 year-old Levan, a recovering drug addict, said: “For me it is more effective when I speak to a person who had the same problem as I have now. It is easier to tell him frankly about my feelings and problems. I can trust such person more than to the doctors, who only read some books about my disease but in fact have no idea how I suffer from not getting the drugs when I want them.” Levan has been addicted to drugs since he was 17.
This project does not use medication but rather ‘talking therapy’ and the power of faith to help wean the addicts off their drugs. According to Dr Sologashvili, the main idea of the method of treatment is that the drugs should be replaced with faith. She said: “These people are very ill. They have a need to be dependent on something, and faith is better than drugs. God always helps those who really need it.”
Drug addicts who are involved in this project should live in the monastery for three months at least. They work there and prey there as the monks and priests do. Twice a week they have psychotherapy sessions.
After these three months they go home but return to the psychologists and the monastery once a week. Then they may go on to form groups which in turn will help other drug addicts recover.
This program has a support of the Patriarchy of Georgia, the Norwegian Mission of Rule of Law Advisers to Georgia (NORLAG), Penal Reform International (PRI) and the Ministry of Justice of Georgia. The program is funded by international organization PRI with 3,000 USD.
|< Prev||Next >|