The issue of social reintegration of recovering drug dependents is widely debated and remains unresolved in most societies worldwide. The issue of drug dependence itself is very sensitive because it largely affects the most basic structure of society: the family. It is most unfortunate that drug dependency victimizes a large number of citizens all over the world, a large majority of who are talented, skilled persons. At turning points in certain drug dependents’ lives, each turns their backs on their vices and opt for a new life.
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However, there is a strong stigma attached to drug dependents, because of the very nature of their existence under the influence of drugs. Generally, their lives could be described as bankrupt: financial, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual bankruptcy. Such is the financial bankruptcy of a drug dependent that in most cases, one succumbs to a life of crime.
At some points in their lives, a percentage of drug dependents want to turn over a new leaf, but society does not welcome them. Because of these, almost all of them relapse and slink back to a depraved existence of chemical abuse.
There is a vast difference between recovering drug dependents from active drug dependents. Given the chance -- and certain social programs made available to them -- it is indeed possible for recovering drug dependents from being productive members of society once again. Based on social programs in the European Union, I will show how it is possible to reintegrate recovering drug dependents into society, by the use of rehabilitation and social programs.
The question on social reintegration is part of the third strategy target of an EU Action Plan 2000 - 2004 (Verster and Solberg 2). The target of the third EU game plan is to considerably increase the population of successfully treated drug dependents, and ensure that adequate attention is given to social and proficient rehabilitation plus reintegration of ex-addicts (Verster and Solberg 2). In some cases in the EU, social reintegration is the final stage of the treatment or recovery process of the drug dependents (Verster and Solberg 3). Nevertheless, social reintegration must be considered as an independent means of intervention, with its own goals and methods of achieving it (Verster and Solberg 3).
Most of the interventions are not specifically for recovering drug dependents but are general programs available to others. In some instances, the interventions themselves are part of preventive programs for the onset of chemical dependency (Verster and Solberg 5).
The use of self-help organizations like Narcotics Anonymous is one strategy in social reintegration. The primary target of Narcotics Anonymous is to avert the future use of drugs, foster contact with companions and provide the recovering drug dependent with a support group which can help in keeping the focus on recovery (Verster and Solberg 59).
Another valuable strategy is the training, education and building up of skills of recovering drug dependents (Verster and Solberg 59). Popular nowadays are therapeutic communities that utilize halfway houses and outpatient treatment facilities (Verster and Solberg 8). Social programs (governmental or non-governmental) may use skilled instructors or social workers with backgrounds in psychology and counseling to teach skills in fields like home economics and vocational training, carpentry, engineering, electronics, information technology, and the like. Integrated into these training are medical programs to ensure that the quality of life of the ex-addicts is being taken cared of with the use of medical and psychological treatment. For ex-addicts that have been institutionalized (imprisoned) for long stretches of time, the training and development could be more intensified through sheltered accommodation (Verster and Solberg 10). Thus, with these supplemental treatments, the former addicts’ health risks are dramatically lessened by teaching them behaviors that would keep them healthy. It would also promote the social functioning of the former dependent, to the point that he/she is motivated to maintain these basic changes in their lives.
Certain government agencies and non-government agencies overlooking the ex-addicts’ social reintegration will have formed tie-ups with socially-aware organizations that would readily hire on trained recovering former dependents. Some departments and organizations offer several assistances for the drug dependents, including finding accommodation, skills in job-hunting and even in preparing resumes. Therefore, another vital strategy for social integration is procuring employment for the recovering addict.
The last strategy could be housing programs which aim at stabilizing the recovering drug dependents’ lives after training and employment (Verster and Solberg 58). Persons who are still needing support may be provided with “accompanied housing” (Verster and Solberg 19). The goals of “accompanied housing” include abstinence from drugs, identification of personal problems, enhanced self-potential and the motivation for a continued drug-free lifestyle. The recovering dependent may also be given administrative counseling in solving debt problems, stabilizing abstinence and an appreciating the potentials of a better life (Verster and Solberg 10).
All these forms of social reintegration would need follow-up work from the organizations, for a period of up to 18 months after housing is provided. Counseling, too, should be given as supplemental after-care.
There is only one counter argument to the social reintegration of recovering drug dependents. It is a general perception that once an addict, always an addict. The general population is reluctant to accept that a fruitful life is indeed possible for former drug addicts.
We all have a responsibility to our fellow men, and that is keeping an open mind and giving people who have stumbled in life, a chance to get up from where they had fallen. Most of these recovering drug users feel a deep remorse for the loss opportunity and heartache that their addiction has caused them and their loved ones. If we cannot actively help them by getting involved in organizations with social reintegration programs, we can at least minimize the stigma attached to these recovering drug dependents. How? By reaching out and communicating to them that life is full of hope, that there is a beautiful future waiting for each and every one of us. All we have to do is work hard for it. Let us keep an open mind and welcome our brothers and sisters back into society. They were created to have equal opportunities as each and everyone else.
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