Inmates of the Lusignan Prison, East Coast Demerara (ECD) are undergoing a three-day substance abuse prevention programme being executed by the Ministry of Social Protection’s Probation and Social Services Department.
The Phoenix Recovery Project – a substance abuse recovery organisation – will be facilitating some parts of the training.
According to a statement from the Ministry, the programme is part of efforts to help the inmates reintegrate with society upon their release.
It quoted the Senior Probation and Social Services Officer, Deborah Joseph who underscored the importance of such programmes.
“The prison system most time provides a temporary stay, by this I mean you are here only for a period of time, after which you are expected to be reintegrated into your households, communities and wider society… it is a place that will allow you to turn a new page in your life and a place you’re not expected to return to” Joseph said.
The inmates heard stories from recovering drug addicts who shared their experiences and challenges with overcoming substance abuse.
Sandra Braithwaite, a recovering drug addict and now an officer attached to the Phoenix Recovery Project, will be working with the inmates throughout the next three days to assist with several substance recovery methods and general awareness.
Braithwaite explained that she struggled with substance addiction for several years but was able to stop using addictive substances after partaking in the first female substance abuse programme ten years ago.
She has since joined Phoenix and is an advocate against substance abuse.
Phillip Drayton – a recovery specialist attached to Phoenix, told of the numerous effects of illicit substances and the process of addiction.
He underscored that although many times persons start substance abuse as a coping mechanism for an issue they are faced with, long after that issue is gone, an addiction remains.
He said the culture which perpetuates substance abuse as the cool thing to do, specifically through music, is a very misleading one that fails to mention the harmful effects.