Alcohol is an important risk factor that has significant impact on health deterioration and premature death. According to the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control report (Prevalence and Effects of Alcohol Use in Latvia in 2017), alcohol addiction has increased slightly in 2017 when according to data there were 1634 alcohol addiction patients who were undergoing alcohol addiction treatment for the first time or 84.1 cases per 100 000 inhabitants (in 2016 - 1511 patients or 77.1 cases per 100 000 inhabitants). Considering that alcohol abuse is one of the risk factors for public health, socio-economic development and security, it is clear that this is not just a problem for the rehabilitation centres solely, but a problem for the society as a whole.
The project "MUCH MORE” has established close cooperation with two non-governmental organizations – rehabilitation centres in Latvia "Nova Vita" and "Integration for Society". These are two rather different rehabilitation centres because of their clients and approaches but they serve the same aim - to help people with addiction problem to live sober life and accept that addiction is a disease. For example, the organisation “Integration for Society” helps one of the most socially vulnerable groups - men with prison experience and addiction problem. This organisation which has been almost twenty years of work experience has established successful approach to rehabilitation and re-socialization of their clients, helping them to recover physically and spiritually. The rehabilitation centre “Nova Vita” focuses its attention and activities towards daily life and community work, studies of Holly scriptures, revival of spiritual life and living life based on "12 Steps to Freedom" program. The group activities on regular bases carried out within the project “MUCH MORE” are of great support to the overall recovery process. They allow to understand that cooking and healthy nutrition could be simple and attractive as well. Regular physical activities provide motivation to stay active and physically developed and art therapy workshops encourage to look deeper and better understand oneself.
In general, the number of people who undergo treatment from alcohol addiction is growing because majority start to understand that they will not cope with it themselves. At first the addicted person meets with a narcologist or pays a visit to the Minnesota 12-step program. There are quite many persons who want to continue their rehabilitation process after they have finished the program and then the organisations which provide social rehabilitation services for addicted persons are of great support. When staying at the social rehabilitation centres with addictive illnesses, the motivated clients change physically and mentally, therefore emotional support provided by the group members and community principle is important for individual development. Perhaps even the theory from the books does not give as much as human contact and sharing with each other about their previous and recovery experience. Strengthening one's beliefs and confidence in the group, the addicted person is on the way to recovery because during the resocialization period he or she will also have to face different people, challenges and temptations. The project “MUCH MORE” confirms that regular group activities are very important and make an important contribution to the recovery process, as well as highlighting the importance of the rehabilitation centres and need for their development.
Text by Aija Vecenāne, City of Riga Welfare Department