Initiatives by Brazil and Egypt will be recognized, in the second half of the year, as global references in the treatment of alcohol users and users of other drugs. Projects in both countries and also in Kazakhstan were chosen by the United Nations (UN) to be transformed into global centers.
In Brazil, the Psychosocial Attention Center for Alcohol and other Drugs (Naps-AD), developed by the City Hall of Santo André, is going to become an international reference, in Egypt, the honors will be of the Center for Psychosocial Attention of Cairo Mental Hospital, and in Kazakhstan, of the Clinical Center on Medical and Social Problems of Drug Abuse.
The idea is that professionals working with drug users in countries in the region in which the center is located may be trained there and taught about the centers' experiences. The initiative is part of the program of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The focus is on consumers with mental problems caused by the use of drugs.
According to the coordinator of the Mental Health Program of the city hall of Santo André, Décio de Castro Alves, it all began halfway through 2005, when the UN invited its member countries to establish a network for the exchange of experiences in the area and to reduce the consumption of drugs and alcohol.
Around 60 countries showed interest and 20 were selected, among them Brazil and Egypt. The fact was informed to the centers that work on the treatment of alcohol and drug users in Brazil and the project from Santo André was selected by the Ministry of Health and by the UNODC Southern Cone office to represent the country in the UN work developed in the area.
The group of countries has established a network and elaborated a document about successful practices in treatment. The next step will be the creation of global centers. The UN recommended the initiatives in Egypt and Kazakhstan, and Brazil was chosen by the members of the group, according to Alves.
The work developed by the Santo André nucleus is focussed on respecting the rights of drug users. Alcohol is also considered a drug. At the Naps-AD around 30 workshops are given every week to help users rebuild their lives.
The work, of which the nucleus is the center, also covers the creation of groups for the generation of income for patients, where there is from production of organic food to woodworking with recycled wood and assistance turned to helping those being treated to go back to school.
There is also a team that works with users in the streets and offers stays at therapy homes – not in psychiatric hospitals – during the period of treatment. Based on the principle of respecting the citizenship of the user, they are not obliged to abandon addiction. Those who decide to continue also receive assistance from the program for care with their health. Those working in the program work amidst drug users distributing, for example, disposable syringes.
Alves believes that there are many experiences to be exchanged with the Egyptians and with developing countries in general. "We have much greater affinities than differences. There is significant joint work to be developed," he said. The work done in Egypt, according to the assistant coordinator of the Naps-AD and articulator of the UNODC project, Adriana Barcellos, is also geared at making the individual return to the control of his life.
The idea is that the person has become a user due to some situation he is living or has lived. Thus, if he is simply separated from the drug, when he returns to his life in society, he will return to being a user. Therefore the actions are turned to social reinsertion and to the solution of inconvenient problems.