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Underage drug addicts to get residential care

Underage drug addicts will be provided residential care following a three-year contract signed between government and Caritas.

tim_diacono
Tim Diacono
6 May 2016, 3:36pm
Caritas director Leonid McKay (centre) signing the public social partnership deal
Caritas director Leonid McKay (centre) signing the public social partnership deal
Underage drug and alcohol addicts will be provided residential care following a contract signed between government and Caritas.

The three year contract will take the form of a public social partnership and is expected to cost government around €750,000 and be up and running by the end of the year.

Young addicts will initially be treated in an interim rehabilitation centre, possibly a vacant house at Birkirkara that used to serve as a residential home for female drug victims, social welfare minister Michael Farrugia told a press conference.

A permanent and specialised building has also been envisioned for the future.

Services at the centre will include education to ensure that the youths do not fall behind in school curricula, and will cater for people suffering from both substance abuse and mental illness.   

Discharged people will also receive aftercare treatment for an indefinite period of time.

Meanwhile, Caritas and government employees will undertake training courses abroad on how to treat young addicts.

“[Former Caritas director] Monsignor Victor Grech had long warned of the problem of underage drug users, but this is the first ever contract signed between Caritas and government aimed at tackling the problem,” he said.

Caritas Director Leonid McKay warned that the number of Caritas patients is on the rise, and that 20% of the people treated by the Church-run NGO last year were new clients.

“Residential care must always be seen as a last resort, but an adequate place must be formed for those people who do require it,” he said.

‘Education needed to counter rise of synthetic drugs’

Both Farrugia and McKay noted a changing drug trend in Malta – with heroin becoming less popular, and cocaine and synthetic drugs more widespread.

The latter poses a notorious headache for lawmakers, due to the high rate of development of new chemical forms of the drug.

“Governments are chasing drug developers, and international collaboration is crucial to identify new synthetic drugs as early as possible,” Farrugia said. “However, the crux of the problem is education, and it is better to educate children against the drug before they try them out.” 

DealToday