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Ex-addict helps other young men recover

Updated: November 09, 2009 10:28 AM GMT
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One young man whose life was transformed by a Church-run drug rehabilitation center is now working with the organization to help others in the same predicament.


Residents of the rehabilitation center undergoing group therapy

"I took heroin and amphetamines," said Teeradech, 37, a helper at the Rebirth Therapeutic Community Center (Soon Kert Mai) for Men run by the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity. The center is in Chombung, Ratchaburi province, west of Bangkok. Teeradech´s story is all too typical of drug addiction. He not only took drugs, he also stole money to buy them as well as engaged in trafficking for a year. His brother brought him to the center about 10 years ago when he was given bail after being arrested on drug offenses. It changed his life. He now lectures at Thailand´s Narcotics Control Board and is in charge of the detoxification program at Soon Kert Mai. "Now I am using the lessons I learned in life to help others," he said. Father Sathit Sriwanchai, the center´s director, says rehabilitation involves two stages. "The first stage is a detoxification period of 10 days." After that, the men receive psychological and spiritual support through group therapy and lessons, as well as undergo a physical exercise program for about 18 months. The entire program is designed to help the men develop a positive attitude to life, healthy relationships, sound values and mature judgment, Father Sathit says. "Most drug addicts start to walk on the wrong path when young. We try to help them rediscover their own way of life free from drugs," he added. Sister Sumalee Arunyakanont, 68, an assistant to Father Sathit, said the young drug addicts at the center mostly come from rich or middle class families who, despite their wealth, "live lives that are empty and very lonely." The center was founded in 1979 and has more than 250 male residents aged 13-26. Most are Buddhist but there are six Catholics and three Muslims. In the early 1990s the congregation opened a similar center for women in Bangkla, Chachoengsao province, eastern Thailand. It has more than 50 residents. Drug addiction is a growing problem in the country. According to Thailand´s Narcotics Control Board, the number of drug users rose from 460,000 in 2003 to 605,000 people in 2008. The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity was founded in 1958 by Father James Flanagan in the United States. It has missions in 16 countries, including China and the Philippines.

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