My Visit to a Rehab Centre in Malta

“I was clean for over year but I relapsed, I have come back to rehab because I want to be a better father to my daughter”.

Those words were spoken by a gentleman, I met during my visit at a rehabilitation centre in Malta. He was addicted to cocaine and heroin by the age of 17 and at the age of 33, he was trying to regain control of his life.

Malta is a well-known tourist destination for UK travellers, with over half a million Brits travelling to there every year. Whilst Malta is known for its hot weather and rich history. The drugs trade is a major issue, in March 2017, customs inspectors seized more than 300kg of cocaine. It was hailed as the biggest drugs seizure in the history of the Mediterranean island.

Heroin is the most widely used drug among those receiving treatment but there has been an increase in the use of cocaine and cannabis. Young men are most at risk of entering into the world of drug addiction. The figures show the number of women seeking help for drug addiction is decreasing. However, we cannot conclude that the use of drugs amongst women is decreasing as they may not be accessing the support they need.

Malta is facing an influx of New Psychoactive Substances(NPS) particularly synthetic forms of cannabis. Dr Mario Mifsud, a forensic pharmacist, said:

“He warned that highly specialised chemists are constantly creating new forms of synthetic drugs, at a faster rate than the authorities can identify and criminalise them”.

Once an individual has the courage to ask for help and enters into rehab, I learnt that values such as honesty, consistency and respect are key to their recovery. Due to their addiction, lying and manipulation become second nature. It takes immense dedication to commit to recovery from the group sessions which entails sharing intimate details of their lives to performing daily chores.

We cannot neglect the significance of employment, which can bring a sense of routine and dignity into someone’s life. I found through my line of work and conversations with people, focusing on an individual’s gifts and how they can contribute to society is key. Despite, the Monday blues and complaining about our coworkers, it’s easy for us to forget how important our jobs can be to our personal development. During the recovery process, providing employment support e.g. CV help, interview training etc. is crucial.

It’s truly about humanising people that are affected by substance misuse, yes they may have done terrible things in the past but does that mean we render them useless to society and themselves.

My experience reinforced the importance of going beyond the conventional tourist’s activities and taking a proactive approach to exploring a country. Bluntly put, there is more to a country than its beaches and 5-star rated restaurants on TripAdvsior. Maybe visiting a rehab centre isn’t for you but maybe volunteering at a soup kitchen is. In this age of information, there is no excuse to not at least attempt to broaden your horizons. I am by no means excluding myself from this, as I’m just as guilty as anyone, having previously visited countries and hardly left the confines of my hotel or even more shamefully, studied abroad and spent most of my time with other international students.

As many living in the Western world, we have become increasingly focused on the individual and while this has some benefits. We can miss out on the power of maintaining close bonds with family and friends. I spoke to a few residents at the facility and one common thread was how their social circles either propelled them to fight their addiction or enabled their addiction. After this experience, I had to personally reflect on how I had the time and willingness to talk to residents in Malta but was I making the time to speak to or visit family and friends back home, that I know suffer from substance misuse or mental health challenges? I’m not suggesting exclusively focusing on your immediate social circle at the expense of the wider world. But I am recommending, you ponder on how you can make a difference to the lives of people closest to you. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture, it could be a short text to a friend that you know is struggling or buying someone a book to help improve their craft.

Overall, I left the rehabilitation centre with a greater perspective on how and why people entered the world of drug addiction also the need for compassion for all people whether they are fighting an addiction or just having a bad day.

Learn more :

  1. DrugWise article on New Psychoactive Substances
  2. National Report on the Drug Situation in Malta
  3. Family involvement is important in substance abuse treatment

Check out my Instagram, for more pictures and videos from Malta here

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