The dictionary describes the word rehabilitation
as ‘to restore to effectiveness through training’. There are many different types of rehabilitation projects available for those who are seeking help in recovering from drug dependency. In these pages and also on page entitled 'Changing Lives - case study 2' we look at some case studies of different approaches to drug rehabilitation.
Drug Rehabilitation Case Study -The Deliverance Programme, Cairo, Egypt
by Dr Ehab El Kharratt
Heroin abuse has plagued Cairo streets since 1980. Before that the drug scene was mainly concerned with milder drugs. Opium and hash have been used for several decades, while tranquilliser and amphetamine use rose rapidly in the 1970s.
The number of heavy drug users is estimated to be 400,000–500,000, mostly young men. If we add regular hashish abusers, then we are talking about 2 million people out of a total population of 58 million Egyptians. The drug problem is causing major damage to the lives and finances of Egyptian families.
With no drug rehabilitation program functioning in the whole country, private and government mental hospitals have success rates for rehabilitation of less than 1%.
Many people in our church felt a great concern for the friends and relatives of young people stricken by addiction. In 1989 Adel, a heroin addict, totally broken financially and psychologically, was introduced to me. We offered medical help through detoxification and a course of Bible study with young volunteers. After 18 days of this program Adel, our first addict, received the Lord in tears. He began praying for his friends and four addicts attended a Christian retreat for young people.
On the third night of this meeting, I was to preach about ‘Jesus delivers from bondage’. Did I really believe Jesus could liberate these addicts? I knew that these were really hard cases – some had been admitted more than ten times to hospital and most had serious problems with the law. No, I admitted that in myself I did not believe these people could be delivered. But how could I preach a gospel I did not believe? Struggling, I took a step of faith in prayer and preached with confidence. The place was filled with the presence of the Lord in a way I have rarely encountered, either before or since that night. Three of these four addicts received the Lord in tears and intense joy overwhelmed them. We started a special daily discipleship-therapy group after this meeting. On returning to Cairo, a fifth addict joined them.
One of their first steps was to return a car which they had stolen just before the retreat and were planning to sell in order to buy drugs. The Holy Spirit helped to change totally the lives of these young men. They have never relapsed. One now works full time with us; one has just returned from Christian work in a refugee disaster area; two work in business and the fifth is preparing for his wedding and working as a pharmacist in Kuwait.
Rehabilitation work today
Since June 1991 we have rented an apartment which acts as a temporary rehabilitation centre for five residents at a time. Addicts first have the opportunity to meet the leaders, our ex-addicts and therapists, and get to know our programme. If they want to join they begin a one year programme. Until the programme is over, they must keep away from their old friends who are addicts. At first they are isolated for two months, spending their time in the apartment – in Bible studies, house work, sports and personal and group meetings with the leaders. Gradually they spend more and more free time outside. By the sixth month we encourage them to begin part time work or study.
Because of our lack of space, we have so far taken only 22 ‘hard’ drug addicts into our programme. These are mostly people who have already ‘hit bottom’, having lost their jobs, family support and all financial resources. Out of these 22, 14 have finished the programme successfully – now abstaining totally, with their lives completely changed. This success rate is not achieved anywhere else in Egypt.
In addition, we also do drug awareness campaigns in schools, sporting clubs, universities, youth camps and churches. The testimonies of ex-drug addicts are very powerful in helping young people to avoid the road of destruction.
Our vision has been for a farm where we could eventually accommodate 100 addicts. We have been given 30 hectares of desert land in Wadi-El Natroon. We have drilled a well and installed irrigation. So far, 4,000 olive trees and 200 date palm trees have been planted. 8 hectares are used for vegetable production and we have already harvested three crops. Work started on the buildings in September 1994. Much of the funding has come from local support and two Nile cruises which we organised!
In addition to the work with drug addicts, we plan to help the local people to establish primary health care, a literacy programme and small home industries making the traditional carpets and rugs of the area.
The Programme Director has been invited to speak to the Egyptian Psychiatric society four times. Recent interest has been overwhelming – particularly into the spiritual core of the work.
We recognise the grace of God as the source of all healing, change and power. We trust that all that is happening in this work gives him the glory and praise that he is worthy of.
Dr Ehab El Kharratt is the Director of the Deliverance Programme, PO Box 1333, Cairo, Egypt