Residential Treatment/ Rehabilitation:
The principles of Narcotics Anonymous 12 Step Program form the basis of this program of treatment and rehabilitation/habilitation. The importance of structure, work production, exercise, prayer and relaxation is acknowledged and these are all essential elements in this holistic program.
Awareness, Prevention, Demand and Harm Reduction:
This is comprised of:
A series of meetings that all APON residents participate in on a daily basis.
The Children''s Program that is focused on removing ''at-risk'' children from potential drug abuse situations.
An important educational service for addicts, their families and the general community.
Aftercare and Halfway House with Skill Training and Income Generation: This incorporates a range of post rehabilitation meetings and also a strong support network (APON based) to assist with the continued recovery of the addict. Additionally the aftercare service provides participants with the option to obtain skill training and to contribute to the income generation of the program.
APON Successes and Achievements:
Work at APON is very difficult. Funding can be hard to come by and APON''s commitment to fighting drug addiction through complete abstinence (unlike other ''revolving door'' detoxification programs at clinics) can sometimes feel like an uphill battle. It takes much energy and patience for everyone involved, but especially for our small group of staff. Despite this adversity, however, there are many wonderful things happening. The APON program provides its participants with a forum to reflect on their life and the environment they live in which often leads to self initiated change. This is a very empowering process and for the guardians the results often seem to be miraculous i.e. after many years of addiction, a change in their son, husband or father seemed an impossibility before they came to APON.
We count our successes according to the quality of life that results from a person being at APON. The most obvious and rewarding successes are those addicts who get off and stay off drugs, the young and old recovered addicts who are alive today because they completed the APON program. One such person is a 16-year-old boy who grew up in the local market after his father remarried and his mother died. I recall the day he heard that his best friend (whom he had spent most of his time with - using drugs, etc.) had died. They used to eat the same food, sleep in the same public/open places in the market (upstairs where they use drugs), share the same drugs and do the same work, etc. His only response to the sad news was that the same thing would have happened to him if he had not come to APON.
Over the past five and a half years APON has treated 354 addicts (of which 71 have been aged 8-18) and 27 ''at-risk'' youngsters. At present there are usually approximately 85 residents at APON and a number waiting for admission. Space in the small house we rent makes it difficult to admit the constant flow of addicts coming for assistance. But APON has never refused an addict the chance for treatment because he could not pay anything. All of those who come to APON get off drugs and begin the recovery process, but not all of these participants have been rehabilitated. In fact the 12 Step Program of Narcotics Anonymous that APON maintains acknowledges the fact that an addiction can never be completely cured, and that recovery can be a lifelong struggle. Those addicts who do slip and use drugs again can still live a better life. Once they have been to APON they know there is hope and a way to get off drugs again, and are more aware of what they are doing.
These addicts will be more careful about the ways they can contact HIV/AIDS; more informed about how the drugs they use affect their body, mind and spirit. Most of all they are more aware of their own options in life and this knowledge is invaluable.
APON Halfway House at Fulbaria
One ongoing achievement of the APON program is the positive, community enhancing attitude or spirit that continues to thrive. This is most obvious by the response of people in the local area who genuinely appreciate and respect the work that APON is doing. Besides this there is the rally for International Day Against Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking, where APON consistently fronts a lively, colorful contingent of young program participants and other youngsters of the local area. As a result APON is regularly recognized as one of the top prizewinners for this event. The Director General of the department of Narcotics Control and the Coordinator of the UNDCP in Dhaka both regularly speak very highly of APON. Also, in UNDCP''s South Asia Drug Demand Reduction Report (1998) APON was acknowledged through the publishing of an article detailing the program and what it has to offer.
We have been very encouraged by the success of our efforts with the bazaar and slum based youngsters. All have re-started primary education classes at the Center. Those going to a nearby school are performing excellently and are at the top of their classes. While before most of them quit school because of conflicts with their teachers, now the teachers praise them. They are also eagerly spending about an hour daily for basic skill training in our workshop. However, we see an urgent need for more separate facilities, additional staff, resources and funds for this aspect of our work. Also we realize that we have not begun to address the enormous population of children who need this type of assistance.
The objectives of the program are as follows:
To establish a fellowship of recovering addicts living in a healthy atmosphere, helping fellow addicts and their families recover from addiction.
To disseminate knowledge of basic facts about drug abuse, addiction, the Twelve Steps Program of Narcotics Anonymous and the recovery process.
To provide an environment in which addicts review their lifestyle, develop healthy attitudes, demonstrate sobriety and form good habits in daily life and work.
To provide an environment in which addicts acquire sufficient skill training, education and other preparatory knowledge that will lead to constructive and gainful employment.
To enable recovering addicts to make a full and active positive contribution to family and society, living a happy drug free and crime free life, who are constructively and gainfully employed, motivating others to stay off drugs or to get off drugs. Special emphasis is on high-risk youngsters of the nearby slums.
To provide drug prevention, motivational and training assistance for young drug addicts and high-risk youngsters, especially those from poor and/or dysfunctional families.