To hell and back: Kicking the drug habit

Filio sits uncomfortably on the edge of the chair. At first, she is reluctant to look at the cassette recorder; later, she forgets it’s there. Memories, still raw and bleeding, drag her back to the start of the darkest period in her life. It was an evening four years ago when the police brought her son home in a woozy state. «I knew something odd was going on,» she said, «but I couldn’t think what. I didn’t want to acknowledge it.» The same thoughts went through Katerina’s mind when, 10 years ago, she realized drugs had finally knocked on the door of her own family home – which could not be categorized, unlike many others, as a dysfunctional one. With time, the idea that a family drama lies hidden behind every adolescent drug user has taken a battering. The majority of adolescents who approached the drug dependency treatment community Strofi last year (64.7 percent of boys and 68.8 percent of girls) came from families in which the parents still lived together. Most said that neither their parents nor their siblings had an alcohol or drug problem. They were children from «good families,» as we are wont to call them. These families found themselves battling – literally for dear life – for hours, days, even months, during which all known channels of communication, forms of behavior and relations broke down and had to be painfully rebuilt from the start. The treatment process demands dedication – from parents and users alike. They follow parallel courses, trying to find the way out of hell. «We all have changed,» said Filio. «I think I’ve become a better person. I look at life differently. But we have a long way to go yet.» Today, her son is at the rehabilitation stage in the therapeutic community «Diavasi,» while Katerina’s daughter has finished the detoxification program and is continuing with her life. Two mothers and two former addicts talked to Kathimerini about what they went through, and what they gained.

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