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St Ann drug rehab centre enjoys 80% success rate — director

BY KIMONE FRANCIS
Observer staff reporter
francisk@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, May 15, 2017

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A rehabilitation programme designed to reintegrate people battling with addictions back into society has been reaping success, director Barbara Richards has said.Richards, head of Teen Challenge Jamaica women's centre, explained that the programme, now in its 20th year, was designed to rehabilitate people with drug, alcohol and other life-controlling problems.

A similar programme for men is spearheaded by her husband, Anthony, who is the executive director of Teen Challenge Jamaica. She explained that what started out as a programme for children has evolved into one adults can benefit from. It caters to people from 15 to 65 years old.

“Right now we are swamped with people who are using ganja. There are a lot of young people that it is affecting. It's cannabis psychosis; it's not just addiction. It's madness,” Richards disclosed during an interview with the Jamaica Observer North & East at the St Ann facility last Tuesday.

Cannabis psychosis is a severe mental disorder which is believed to be brought on by the use of ganja. Thoughts and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.

“People are going crazy because of the ganja,” she added.

The programme director said this is sometimes as a result of individuals mixing the drug with other substances which, she said, is a different approach from those who have done it “straight” and have remained controlled. She suggested that “a new breed” of ganja could also account for people not being able to remain level-headed.

Pointing out, at the same time, that drugs and alcohol are not the problem, she explained that the addictions begin because people are attempting to deal with or escape problems they are faced with.

“Drugs are symptoms of the problem. The problem can be rejection, it can be abuse, it can be just their own perception of how they were treated as children and growing up into adulthood,” she noted.

Approximately 20 people are currently enrolled in the programme from both centres which were setup to provide secondary care for people discharged from hospitals after they have been stabilised. The recovery process, which is Christ-centred, ranges from 12 to 18 months.

“The first thing we do is to evangelise. So we go out into the churches and we evangelise; we go out into the streets and do the same and we feed them. We say, 'God loves you; come and get the care of God'. Then they come in and we have counselling. We also have a curriculum that speaks to issues of rejection that leads to anger, and self-worth and self-acceptance, among other things,” she explained.

Those enrolled are required to engage self-sustainable activities as part of the rehabilitation process, such as growing produce for consumption as well as sale.

“When we see a certain amount of stability and productivity and they are disciplined in how they go about life, we release them,” she mentioned.

Richards said while “hundreds” have completed the programme and have not reverted to their old ways, there are some who have “slipped”.

“It's not a medication you give to deal with their addiction. It's something by choice. One of our first criteria for people enrolling is that you have to want the help for yourself, not for a loved one or a spouse,” Richard noted.

A case is deemed successful if the person has remained “clean” for seven years or more. Richards said the centre has an 80 per cent success rate and added that a system for alumni was set up to keep track of them once they leave.

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