Dr Hamad Al Gaferi (centre), Mohammad Al Hosni, Head of Social Work Department and Fatima Al Hamdi, psychologist, NRC, at the press conference on Thursday. Image Credit: Ravindranath/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) plans to expand its current services to women and men because alcohol and drug addiction is a growing problem across the UAE and the Arab world.

The NRC was established in Abu Dhabi in May 2002, with only 18 beds for male Emiratis who are addicted to either drugs, alcohol, or both. Since its establishment, NRC has offered treatments, rehabilitation and nursing services to 340 patients, some of whom are still receiving treatment, others have passed away.

During a press conference held at the NRC yesterday, Dr Hamad Al Gaferi, NRC Director General, announced that the NRC will be moving from their current location, to a 200-bed premises, for both males and females by the end of 2014.

Treatment

"There are unfortunately many females who have an addiction problem. That's why we will include a separate centre for them in our new premises, however treating women is very different than treating men," said Al Gaferi, who added that the majority of addicts are not only addicted to drugs such as heroin and cocaine, but are either alcoholics, or over-consume prescribed medications.

During the next seven months, NRC will be offering health education related to addiction among patients and communities such as schools and universities, covering topics such as cause, symptoms, ways of treatment and prevention.

The NRC along with the UN office for Drugs and crime is also working on a five-year strategy plan, for addicts who have been sentenced to prison due to alcohol or drug use. When Al Gaferi asked whether the plan will include expatriates, he said: "This is still under study."

Patients admitted to NRC must be Emirati, over the age of 18, and free from HIV/Aids.

"We do however accept patients with hepatitis C, but for those who have HIV/Aids, we refer them to a hospital," Al Gaferi told Gulf News, adding that most patients arrive to the centre at a late stage due to not being able to cope up with the cost of the addiction. Mohammad Al Hosni, Head of Social Work Department, spoke about addicts relapsing, and blamed it on lack of familial and societal support.

"Around 90 per cent of addicts cannot find a job due to organisational stereotypes. That's why we are preparing patients to do voluntary work, which helps them gain confidence and feel equal to others," said Al Hosni. NRC has offered voluntary work for patients through Takatof, and it is in cooperation with Khalifa Fund to help patients become entrepreneurs.

"Starting next month, patients will undergo a six months training programme through the UAE Academy. The training consists of theoretical and work placement training to prepare them to find jobs," said Al Gaferi.

Rate of success

  • 340 patients from May 2002 have been admitted to the National Rehabiliation Centre
  • The 200-bed National Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) will move its premises by the end of 2014 next to Al Mafraq Hospital
  • 90 per cent addicts find it hard to bet a job after they leave rehab
  • Three months is the average time a patient needs before being admitted to an outpatient clinic.
  • 35 to 40 per cent is the rate of success for addicts internationally
  • 40 per cent is the rate of success for addicts across the UAE
  • 68 employees currently exist in NRC
  • 90 is the targeted number of new employees at the NRC, who work in the criminal justice programme, inpatients wards, women wards. The NRC is currently seeking emirati and expatriate employees through the Dubai 2010 job fair.

(Statistics source: Dr Hamad Al Gaferi, Director General, NRC)

Treatment methods

The National Rehabilitation Centre provides treatment, rehabilitation and counselling to patients, their families and their communities in a scientific manner, using the latest methods that target not only the patients but also the environment in which they live. Treatment includes both physical and psychological aspects.

Physical aspect: the patient undergoes a comprehensive medical check-up to detect and diagnose any existing physiological diseases and/or complications resulting from alcohol and/or drug abuse.

Psychological aspect: each patient undergoes a comprehensive psychological assessment to diagnose any pre-existing or drug or alcohol related psychological disease and is then provided with appropriate treatment that includes in addition to medication, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and spiritual therapy.