Effective treatment has been documented as a helpful means for drug dependent individuals to halt their consumption, prevent relapse, change other dysfunctional behaviours and reduce their involvement in crime. Insufficient attention to non-pharmacological treatments as well as insufficient attention to the complexity of rehabilitation and the need for it to be tailored to local social and cultural settings have been the essence of organising the 4-day study mission. The decision to organize this mission was made following the previous consultative meeting of the regional network of Drug Demand Reduction Coordination Centres, held in Tajikistan in May 2018.
In this context, the Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries under Sub-Programme 3 “Prevention and Treatment of Addiction among Vulnerable Groups” invited regional drug treatment professionals and policy makers to attend a study mission to KETHEA Therapeutic Community in Thessaloniki, Greece, on 19-22 November 2018.
KETHEA has been a member of the World Federation of Therapeutic Communities and European Federation of Therapeutic Communities, with 35 years of experience in mental rehabilitation and social inclusion, and having more than 100 units in Greece. In this context, this center was selected for this event with the purpose of strengthening the capacity of the regional policy makers and professionals responsible for and dealing with drug dependence treatment, regardless of the substance and method of use. During the 4-day study mission, 16 drug treatment professionals visited KETHEA PROMETHEUS, KETHEA ITHAKI and KETHEA Therapeutic Community within a prison. World-wide, there are four Therapeutic Communities inside prisons and KETHEA Therapeutic Community in prison is one out of them.
During the first day of the event, the participants exchanged information about their best practices and findings on therapeutic community management at country level. Dr. Phaedon Kaloterakis, the Director Assistant of KETHEA, referred to the findings of KETHEA’s research centre on the effectiveness and sustainability of the Therapeutic Community approach as well as positive behavioural and cognitive changes of individuals who completed at least the one-year course either in KETHEA PROMETHEUS, KETHEA ITHAKI or KETHEA Therapeutic Community within a prison. Dr. Kaloterakis stated: “Seventy-five percent of the rehabilitated individuals graduated from KETHEA have not used any kind of drugs five years after leaving the community”.
The participants also visited different production units at KETHEA, where the community members learn new skills in the organic farm, ceramic workshop, offset printing shop, and the carpentry workshop. They also had the chance to have a group discussion with the recovered drug users in the community and listen to their stories. In the end, the mission was evaluated as very fruitful by the participants.
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