Scot­land gets first-ever ‘drug re­hab vil­lage’

Sunday Herald - - NEWS - BY KARIN GOOD­WIN

SCOT­LAND is to be the site of a rad­i­cal “drug re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion vil­lage”, the Sun­day Her­ald has learned.

The pro­posal for the ground­break­ing Scot­tish res­i­den­tial drug re­cov­ery project near Ayr – in­spired by some of the most rad­i­cal re­hab pro­grammes around the world – has been given the go-ahead. Those be­hind the “re­hab vil­lage” say it will save lives.

The “game-chang­ing” River Gar­den res­i­den­tial cen­tre, or mini-vil­lage, in Auch­in­cruive, three miles from Ayr, is be­ing de­vel­oped by char­ity In­de­pen­dence from Drugs and Al­co­hol Scot­land (IFDAS) to pro­vide ac­com­mo­da­tion, train­ing and sup­port ini­tially for up to 40 for­mer ad­dicts who will live there for up to three years.

The av­er­age re­hab pro­gramme in Scot­land lasts three months. Al­though 97 per cent of peo­ple leav­ing res­i­den­tial drug treat­ment pro­grammes are clean, about 80 per cent have re­lapsed within a month. In Scot­land, there were 867 drug-re­lated deaths last year, among the worst in Europe. The fig­ure has more than dou­bled since 2005. It is claimed one-quar­ter of deaths are of those who have re­lapsed shortly af­ter com­plet­ing ab­sti­nence-based pro­grammes.

IFDAS trustee Mark Bi­tel, him­self a for­mer ad­dict who worked with the Scot­tish Govern­ment sup­port­ing its Road to Re­cov­ery pol­icy, said that stay­ing clean needs more than just med­i­cal treat­ment. He hopes the project will not only save lives but demon­strate that a dif­fer­ent way of sup­port­ing peo­ple is pos­si­ble.

The pro­to­type com­mu­nity, based on the ground­break­ing and suc­cess­ful San Pa­trig­nano com­mu­nity in Italy which sees 80 per cent of ad­dicts re­main in long-term re­cov­ery, has just re­ceived plan­ning per­mis­sion. It aims to open next March.

Like the De­lancey Street pro- gramme in San Fran­cisco and Basta in Swe­den, the Ayr re­hab vil­lage will use a so­cial en­ter­prise model with res­i­dents help­ing to re­store the 18th-cen­tury walled gar­dens of the col­lege that was for­merly on the site as a vis­i­tor at­trac­tion with the help of for­mer Royal Hor­ti­cul­tural So­ci­ety gar­dener Colin Cros­bie.

THE com­mu­nity will grow food to sup­ply an on­site shop and café, and run a bak­ery.The pro­gramme will be free while res­i­dents are vol­un­teer­ing – ex­pected to be for an av­er­age 15-month pe­riod – but they will pay for their ac­com­mo­da­tion once they are em­ployed by the cen­tre.

Bi­tel, also chair of the Scot­tish Re­cov­ery Net­work, which yes­ter­day or­gan­ised the an­nual Re­cov­ery Walk in Dundee, said the cen­tre would fo­cus on res­i­den­tial train­ing and a so­cial en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment cen­tre where peo­ple can live in a place of safety and sup­port.

He said: “In time it could well de­velop into a vil­lage. When peo­ple are clean they need to learn how to re­live their lives in a con­struc­tive, help­ful, lov­ing, sup­port­ive, mean­ing­ful way and get back to be­ing a worker, a tax­payer and a good hu­man be­ing. That’s the gap we are try­ing to bridge.

“What hap­pens to most peo­ple [af­ter they leave drug treat­ment] is they are out of the job mar­ket, they are bored out of their brains and start to ask them­selves: ‘ Why did I go through all of this when my life is ac­tu­ally worse than it was be­fore?’. Be­fore, they were med­i­cated and the pain was taken away, now they are feel­ing that pain.”

Bi­tel said that as well as of­fer­ing work-based train­ing in hor­ti­cul­ture and hos­pi­tal­ity, res­i­dents would es­tab­lish healthy rou­tines. “We will lov­ingly re­store and re­ha­bil­i­tate the gar­den while lov­ingly re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing peo­ple,” he added.

Christo­pher James, a for­mer res­i­dent of San Pa­trig­nano where he re­cov­ered from co­caine and am­phet­a­mine ad­dic­tion, will be em­ployed as a peer worker on the pro­gramme. He said com­mu­nity sup­port, which forced him to take the ad­vice and help of oth­ers, was crit­i­cal to his long-term re­cov­ery. Pre­vi­ously, he said he “had cleaned up and re­lapsed so of­ten that the tele­phone num­ber for my ‘favourite’ re­hab was still in my phone mem­ory when I de­cided to con­tact them the third time”.

He added: “Imag­ine if Scot­land could, based on projects like this, turn its rep­u­ta­tion around and be­come a world-fa­mous cen­tre of ad­dic­tion care and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion. If we are a suc­cess at River Gar­den Auch­in­cruive, and oth­ers take our lead, we could de­velop some­thing truly spe­cial.”

Ku­lad­harini, who is a Bud­dhist nun and chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Scot­tish Re­cov­ery Con­sor­tium, added: “It [River Gar­den] of­fers Scot­land an amaz­ing new pos­si­bil­ity and a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way of mak­ing a con­tri­bu­tion to long-term re­cov­ery from ad­dic­tion.”

IFDAS trustee Mark Bi­tel Pho­to­graph: Colin Mearns

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.