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26 Jun, 2007 04:03

Drug addicts recover through work and prayer

Opium production in Afghanistan in 2006 broke all existing records, according to the UN Drug Report published on World No Drug Day. Drug statistics in Russia – the country which is seen as a comfortable transit route by many traffickers- are n

Ninety thousand drug and alcohol-related deaths are registered in the country annually.

Nodari Mangasarov wanted to become a surgeon but instead left school at the age of fourteen to earn money for his family, driven out of a war-stricken Georgia. But he discovered an easier way to earn money than honest labour.  At fifteen, he was already a thief, who had taken hashish and heroin.  Like many others, he first tried them out of curiosity.

“I used to think: I hate drug addicts. I don't respect them at all. I'm a clever boy. And no, I have and will never have anything to do with them,” Nodari recalls.  

Unfortunately for Nodari, it wasn't long before he was sucked into the world he had so wanted to avoid. And like others on the same path, he lost his friends and his family turned away from him.

“For the first few weeks you feel like you are king of the world. But after a while you shoot-up just to feel like a human being. Soon I told myself to stop. But my will didn't obey my brain. My life became hell,” he says.  

However, after five years of drug addiction, three years in prison, and endless attempts at suicide, Nodari returned from hell with the help of a Christian rehab centre.

The centre at Khutorki in Moscow Region is relatively new.  During its seven years, it has treated around two hundred people.  They include businessmen and politicians, soldiers and labourers. When asked how they managed to kick the habit, former patients mention their belief in God and the support of other members in the community.

Dmitry Gusev, who was among the first patients to recover, stayed at the centre after the treatment to help others.

“The rehabilitation can only be guaranteed by obedience and responsibility: we obey our rules and God's commandment and always remember the responsibility to ourselves and to God. Then comes the adaptation. Its main goal is to protect people from making mistakes when they are most vulnerable – when they first leave the centre,” Dmitry, now the head of the rehab centre, says.  

What also encourages a recovering addict is team-work.  Former addicts work together on the farm, in the garden and in the kitchen. After a home-made dinner it's time for some Bible reading. Residents are also encouraged to express themselves through poetry and music.

In order to tackle medical scepticism about the efficacy of such treatment methods, those who've been cured of their addiction here organise lectures and seminars across Russia.   Their aim is to share their experiences and to accept a new member to the family.