Recovering addict says drug addiction is like a mask that’s increasingly hard to shake off

Caritas inaugurates renewed drug rehabilitation facility specifically for women

Recovering addict Delaia Zammit speaks to the press about her experience at the rehabilitation centre
Recovering addict Delaia Zammit speaks to the press about her experience at the rehabilitation centre

“Drugs are like a mask… they give you a false sense of confidence that’s so hard to shake off,” Caritas rehabilitation programme resident Delaia Zammit said, describing her battle against drug addiction.

Zammit, who first dabbled with drug use at the tender age of twelve, became an addict soon after, as a result of a low self-esteem.

“I used to feel inferior to everyone else, particularly because of my gender, and I used to feel particularly hurt by society’s rejection of me,” Zammit said.

She explained that believing in herself and in your capability to face your demons and overcome the addiction had been one of the biggest challenges so far, after four months of her eight month rehabilitation programme.

“I hope that by talking about my experience today, I can show others going through similar difficulties that it is possible to rise above the challenges and to find your place in society,” she added.

Zammit credits her mother’s invaluable support, as well as the warm support she found at the rehabilitation centre, with overcoming her addiction.

“I now feel like a capable woman and I’m looking forward to a life after the programme,” she said, adding that she aspired to work as a carer to help others facing similar situations, as well as following a hair care and beauty course, to be able to face her future effectively.

Zammit adds however, that her path had not been a simple or straight-forward one, and that she had been in denial for a very long time, until she finally hit rock-bottom.

“Ultimately you have to be the one to seek out help. It’s not enough for others to tell you that you have a problem. In my case, I started seeing the physical and emotional effects on me, and I realised then I desperately needed assistance,” she added.

Zammit further pointed out that Caritas had presented her with the opportunity to find support and to open up about her issues without the fear of being judged.

“We’re learning how to take a stand against people seeking to do us damage, as well as ways to avoid the people who might trigger our addiction again,” she said, adding that the most valuable lessons she was learning so far, was a way to look at life through different lenses.

“I feel like I can finally get rid of the shame that has characterized my life, and face the obstacles that life can throw at you, without resorting to drugs,” she added.

“We come in here with a suitcase full of troubles and we empty it slowly as we go along, so that ultimately we leave with a hoard of tools and skills to face life.”

Caritas inaugurates renewed drug rehabilitation facility specifically for women

Caritas has officially inaugurated a newly refurbished and repurposed building for its drug rehabilitation project, after it was closed down for renovations for around a year.

“The new facility will house thirteen women, including a room for someone with a disability,” Caritas director Leonid McKay said at a press conference earlier today.

McKay explained that the new building would also have a children’s room, specifically for mothers who might be undergoing rehabilitation, and whose children might be spending some time with them, including overnight stays.

“Women require a different and specific experience, and we believe that this new building will encourage more women to seek our services and support,” McKay said, adding that 2015 had seen a slight increase in the number of women seeking assistance, but that the majority of those looking to them for assistance (some 80%), were men.

McKay said that the idea behind the new building was to provide a complete rehabilitation experience that caters for the specific needs of women, and he added that the church organisation’s next task was to create a form of residential rehabilitation for children under the age of 18, to try and tackle drug addiction from the start.

He went on to explain that the name of the building, “Et Iris” – Latin for Rainbow -  had been chosen by the residents themselves, to signify that the rehabilitation centre had given them a chance to rediscover their true colours, after drug addiction had completely dulled and greyed their lives.

Speaking at the inauguration, family minister Michael Farrugia said that the number of women in rehabilitation care had tripled between 2009 and 2013 thanks to specialized, gender specific treatment.

“Our next challenge as a government and as a society, is to provide the necessary after care, to encourage people to get back into society once their rehabilitation programmes are complete, to avoid them falling back into their addiction,” he said.

Farrugia said that between 2011 and 2014, some 86% to 89% of those seeking care had already sought a similar service in their lifetimes, highlighting the fact that better after care was necessary to make programmes more effective.

“We need to make sure that people in rehabilitation programmes are covered in terms of job opportunities, lodging, and social acceptance,” Farrugia said, adding that the same principle ought to be exercised for people who have just emerged from a situation of domestic abuse, time in prison, to ensure that they have hope for a better future.

He added that the government had recently started a scheme to help victims of domestic abuse to find employment as well as subsidizing their rent over three years after the completion of their rehabilitation processes.

“So far, the programme has reached out to victims of domestic violence, but it is also open to former inmates and those coming out of rehabilitation programmes for drug abuse.”

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