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The earlier in life one introduces drugs in his body the larger is the probability that he/she will continue on long term problematic use of drugs, not withstanding the negative consequences that such use may bring along. The harm ranges from social difficulties to conflicts in relationships, involvement with the criminal system, medical complications as well as difficulties related to mental health.

Studies continuously demonstrate that substance abuse (including alcohol and nicotine which are also psychoactive substances) at a young age such as teens and even younger has a more devastating and long-lasting effect due to the brains tenderness which is still in its development till the age of around 25.

Youth is an experimental age. It is the time in life where youths start to gain independence while exploring the new things life has to offer. Acceptance by peers and being part of a group is one of the main goals at this age bracket. It is a learning curve, where impulsion may take a more prominent factor in the youth’s decision-making process. To add to the mix, drug experimentation at this stage in life has a strong impact on the brain’s pleasure pathways, where this hedonistic effect serves as a positive reinforcer to continued drug use.

On the 26th of June, the OASI Foundation commemorates its day of institution. 2020 marks its 29th anniversary. Since its birth, OASI Foundation has been disseminating and empowering the importance of preventing substance abuse amongst our younger generation. This is being done through its prevention strategy which does not only involve the dissemination of information in schools, local councils, work and social groups. A very important and vital approach towards drug abuse prevention is providing a primary pleasurable and recreative incentive for young people to engage in activities such as sports and arts. The OASI Social Awareness team works hard in creating and enforcing a culture of participation in these social pleasurable activities.

It is worrying for the OASI Therapy and Rehabilitation Team to have even 15-year olds applying and accessing both residential and community-based therapy because of addiction difficulties caused mainly by cocaine and cannabis abuse.

The 26th of June is also the World Day against drug use and illicit trafficking. This day has been established by the United Nations. On this day, OASI Foundation wants to reinstate that promoting a culture where drugs (including alcohol and nicotine) can be used for recreational purposes is highly socially corrosive. We are unfortunately meeting cases of locals and foreigners who are reaching out for drugs to obtain spiritual experiences and healing. Apart from the huge amount of money that is being snatched, the mental risks being faced are enormous.

On the anniversary of the Foundation, we would like to end this communication with the slogan by which the Foundation began its mission – Life is Beautiful! There is light at the end of the tunnel for those who are feeling hijacked by addiction.

 

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  1. Do not look at what happened as if it was a family tragedy. Like any other disease, one can also recover from alcoholism.
  2. Do not moan, preach or insist on repeating words of advice. Most likely the person has already gone through all the words he or she would hear from you and repeated them a thousand times in his or her head. Therefore, it is likely that the person will turn a deaf ear and ignore you completely. With your insistence you are likely to increase the need to lie or make the person promise things that he or she will not be able to keep.
  3. Be careful not to use the “I know more than you” attitude or use words such as “look what you have done to us”. It is also possible to give that same impression without even uttering a word. An alcoholic person is so sensitive to such attitude that he or she can pick up such vibes even by the way the other person is looking at him or her or by any changes in the other person’s mood.
  4. Never use words such as “if you really love me”. Once the crave for alcohol becomes compulsive, it is a disease that cannot be controlled by reasoning. Such words have no effect other than to increase anxiety and the sense of guilt that already exists in the person.
  5. Do not threaten - unless you are sure and convinced to carry out the threat. You may need to take specific actions to protect your children. When you threaten and do nothing afterwards, you are making it clear in an alcoholic’s mind that it’s all talk and no action after all.
  6. You do not have to hide or put away any alcohol bottles in the house as this will put the alcoholic person into a state of despair. Ultimately, he or she will still find another way to acquire the alcohol he or she desperately craves.
  7. Do not let the alcoholic person persuade you to drink with him or her on the pretext that he or she would drink less. It rarely happens that way. Should you comply, you will be approving of the alcohol in front of him or her and thus weaken any possibility of seeking help.
  8. Do not envy any kind of help the alcoholic person chooses as treatment for his or her drinking problem. It is easy to think that the family’s love and the security at home are enough incentives to heal and recover from this addiction. Often the path to healing lies in a desire to find and respect oneself and sometimes the person does not find this within the family core. Don't fall into the trap of feeling left out when the alcoholic person prefers to turn to someone else for help.
  9. Never expect signs of success right from the start. Each disease has its own course of convalescence. The process of recovery may include occasional relapses, setbacks and plenty of tension and mood swings as well.
  10. Do not try to protect the alcoholic person from any compromising situations he or she might encounter. This kind of obsessive protection pushes the person into drinking again. He or she must somehow find his or her own way to say “no” to alcohol. For example, when you are socializing and insist with other people not to offer drinks, you are likely to rekindle feelings of shame and disgust in the alcoholic person.
  11. Don’t try to do what the person should do himself or herself or do yourself what is expected from him or her. This is his or her journey to recovery and therefore you are only there as support.
  12. Show the alcoholic that you love him or her. Give your full support and show the person that you understand all that he or she is going through while on the road to recovery.

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When someone we love passes away or we lose something very dear to us, we are gripped by great sorrow and go through many uncomfortable emotions. We may even convince ourselves that the pain and sorrow associated with loss will never go away.

These are very normal reactions that one experiences in case of loss. It is important to understand that when one feels an immense void inside after experience a great loss, there are not right or wrong feelings.  One needs to face these feelings however with confidence and courage that it is a phase and that it will eventually pass.

But, despite the harsh reality of loss, there are good ways that can help a person face this grief with courage and determination. There are effective therapies that over time help get over such difficult, moments. These therapies start by showing what the real phenomenon of loss is and how it works.

What is grief?

Grief is a natural response to loss. It is the emotional pain we feel when someone or something we love is taken away from us. The greater the loss, the greater the grief. We often associate grief with the death of a loved one, but grief can come from a variety of reasons, such as:

  • When a relationship ends
  • Loss of a pet
  • When feeling unwell
  • Loss of an important target in life
  • Losing a job
  • When someone close to us is sick
  • Financial loss
  • End of a friendship
  • Miscarriage
  • Insecurity after a trauma
  • Retirement
  • Sale of one’s home

The way a person deals with grief is somewhat personal and it differs from others because it depends on many factors that also includes the person’s personality, the way the person reacts to stressful situations, past experiences, faith and also the reason of the loss. It is important to note that there is no deadline or time table for the duration to grieving but each individual takes the time needed according to one’s need to grief. We need to give enough time to ourselves for this process to pass as natural as possible without rushing to get over it by brushing the pain aside.

What are the stages of grief?

In 1969, the psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced what is known as the famous five stages of grief which are:

  • Denial: ‘This cannot be happening to me’ – it is only normal that when we receive bad news and we feel distraught by grief, we deny what we are going through at that time.
  • Anger: ‘Why is this happening? Whose fault is it?’ – many times we end up venting out our anger on people who sometimes have nothing to do with the situation. Sometimes we even vent our anger towards the person who has just passed away and left us on our own. What happens here is that we feel guilty for being angry and such anger generates more anger.
  • Bargaining: ‘If You heal this person, I will reciprocate’ – for a person to try and gain control over the situation, such example is when we turn to God and ask Him to heal a friend of ours or a relative and offer something in return even if we know that there is nothing that can be done to heal the person.
  • Depression: ‘The pain is so unbearable, I cannot get myself to move on in life’ – When we experience great loss, it is only normal that we pass through an extremely sad period and lose all interest in what used to give pleasure before such a loss. We also go through a phase where we do not want to see anyone or speak to anyone and would feel better if confined in our own space. However, it is very important that if we remain in this state of self-isolation for a long period of time, or else grief is escalating rather than diminishing by time, we must seek professional help to treat severe depression.
  • Acceptance: ‘I accepted what happened and I will now move on’ – During this stage, we start dealing with the situation and accept that there is nothing more we can do to change the situation. Unfortunately, not everyone manages to reach this stage.

The common symptoms of grief

Whilst grief is expressed in many different ways, depending on the individual, many times people experience common symptoms such as:

  • Shock – not able to believe what we are experiencing at the moment
  • Sadness – this is the most common symptom we experience when passing through grief.
  • Guilt – We start feeling guilty for not having done more or maybe for not having said what should have been said.
  • Anger – Most times anger is not aimed at anyone in particular but it is just the anger felt towards the situation.
  • Fear – When we pass through a period of grief, there is the sense of fear for the future.
  • Physical Symptoms – When going through the grief period, we can experience exhaustion, nausea, weight loss or weight gain, insomnia and constant pain.

How can we deal with grief?

Two fundamental things we need to keep in mind is that when we are passing through grief, we must seek support and take care of ourselves.

It is extremely important not to go through this period on our own. We need to turn to other beloved family members and friends to help us deal with what we are going through during that moment. It’s true that most of the times we would want to be left alone but the fact that we have a close person to us during that moment, will surely help. Another way that can help us during the grieving period is by joining a support group. By sharing our experience with others who can understand exactly what we are feeling because they are also going through the same feelings, will help us heal quicker. However, if we see that none of this helps, we should seek professional advice to help us make it through this phase. We must never think that seeking professional advice is a sign of weakness.

When we are going through grief, self-care is extremely important since this is a period where we lose most of our energy and our immune system plummets. We have to face our emotions because if these are suppressed within us, they might serve more harm than good. We should never let other people dictate how we should feel or force us to feel how they think is best. We should express our emotions freely and truly, whether it’s by crying or by laughing. We should never be ashamed of our ways of expressing ourselves when we are going through the phases of grief. During this period, it should be irrelevant of what others think or say about us during this time. This is a time when we should be surrounded by people who truly understand our emotions and are genuinely there for us to help us make it through this rough time in our lives.    

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Together we can make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering from addiction! This was the message that the OASI Foundation, the Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity (MFCS) and the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS) wanted to pass on today.

This was confirmed by officially signing the Public Social Partnership, which sealed the commitment towards ensuring professional services to those persons suffering from addiction as well in the provision of Prevention Programs and Social Awareness, professional Therapeutic Services in the Community and Residential Therapy and Rehabilitation. This PSP of €1.6 million guarantees the OASI Foundation service provision for the next 3 years.

During the ceremony, the OASI Foundation announced that it is happy to welcome new residents who are to start the OASI Residential Therapy & Rehab program, Covid-19 free. In fact, a group of five persons have gone through a quarantine process to be screened and secured they are free of the Corona Virus. This process was necessary to keep the current residents safe, thus ensuring the continuation of therapy and avoiding a lockdown situation.

This was possible with the help of FSWS, especially the Gozo branch, and with the continuous support of MFCS where all understood the needs that people suffering from addiction are facing, even more so, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

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The OASI Foundation was invited to attend a meeting of the Standing Committee for Gozo Affairs to discuss the impact that Covid-19 is having on our beneficiaries and services.  A recording of the meeting can be listened to on the Parliament website.

 

More information can be found in this article by Hon. Dr. Justyne Caruana, Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee for Gozo Affairs.

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Denial is the greatest enemy of the truth;

It puts you in a bubble and cuts you off completely from reality;

Makes you extremely sensitive to the least important thing;

Whilst continuing to seek attention endlessly!

 

I lived my life with very low esteem. I was bullied, cut myself to physically relieve myself from anxiety, negative emotions, self-hate, loneliness and confusion of doubts.

I got lost in a world where I felt like no one wanted me not even my own family and I ended up alone finding refuge in poetry with the hope that someday someone would see them and understand me. In the state of fear, betrayal and abandonment I was in, I made bad decisions and found myself into bad relationships, where I made myself liked by others in the hope of bringing them into my own distorted reality. What was perfect in my eyes at that time, today is completely different! My body was the resemblance of beauty. Today it’s just an anorexic illusion; a destructive state of mind in which, no matter how thin I am, I am never thin enough and will continue to shrink until finally I break and disappear.

Someone once told me: “smile and the world will smile back to you” My reaction back then was No way!  But today, I think otherwise. Yes, it true! The world would react according to how you act!

I got married at the age of 19, with the impression that I finally found someone who would love me unconditionally. In the rush to get out of my loneliness, I thought I married the man who would solve all my problems back then. But it was too late when I realized that the person I married did not have the security I needed. In the rush to escape my difficult past, I married a man who was still struggling with himself to get rid of his own problems. Nor was I aware that, as a young and immature girl in the body of an adult woman, urging for love and attention, I chose as my husband a man who was nothing but the mirror of my own childhood problems.

Obviously, my marriage didn't work out! The shortcomings and indifference of my spouse to what I was going through affected me so much that I ended up seeking attention elsewhere. My life had become a locomotive, a crazy run from one adventure to another, sometimes feeling good other times feeling down. I took strange decisions and wrong choices in the group of people I used to mingle with.  At first, I felt good, because this time I got the attention I so much wanted. During the same time of this relationship, I remained with my husband faking my marriage for months until I got pregnant by my husband. I decided to end the extra marital relationship but things turned bad because my partner did not accept me breaking up with him. He became obsessed and started following me everywhere I went, blackmailing me with photos and threatening to expose my secret to my husband. One day, out of the blues he lost his mind, became violent and raped me. Thankfully I escaped from his grip and ran home, agitated and in fear.

This dramatic experience has sparked flashbacks from my past. Suddenly, the poems I was writing seemed to make sense and I started to ask myself…. why!? Why now!? I couldn’t understand what was going on, except that something kicked in me. My mind started to see things from a different perspective. I stopped paying attention to what people thought of me. I started to feel like a stranger in my own home. I was frustrated and started to hurt myself physically and cut myself to ease the tension and get rid of the stress that I had. My relationship at home got worse and my husband gave up on me and left. It was then that something clicked the thought of leaving my home and my husband for good. Yet I remained and my husband returned home.

In the meantime, my daughter was born and that’s when I went through a positive period in my life. My daughter was the best thing I ever had and she gave me hope to seek a better future. I had a lot of time to reflect on my past and the current situation I was in. I realized what a big mistake I did when I rushed into marriage…whom I married and how young I was for such a commitment. It was then when I started to feel down again and relapsing into the negative emotions I had forgotten for a while. My relationship had a turn to the worst and after a heated argument I decided that this time I will leave home for sure. I started another extra marital relationship behind my husband’s back, this time with a man who seemed timid and kind. A gentleman who also helped me financially. I thought that this time I found someone reliable, especially since he recommended that I go and seek some sort of guidance before leaving my home and my husband for good. And that is what I did.

I went to a therapist with the thought that everything will be ok once I vented out all the anger I had inside due to the problematic marriage I was experiencing, including the hate I had towards my husband. But the therapist didn’t take long to realize that any matrimonial advice given was not going to be of any help. He realized that my issues were deeper than the actual marital problems I was putting the blame on.  These profound issues needed better attention than any other therapy advice.

The sessions were of great help and helped me stop resorting to self-harm. This saved me from losing custody of my daughter. In the meantime, my therapist helped me empower my self-esteem and became confident and strong enough to have the courage to eventually leave my husband and my home without taking anything I owned, except for my daughter.

My new partner accepted me and my daughter with open arms. My therapist recommended not to stop the therapy sessions and therefore I continued as suggested. By time I realized how judgmental I used to be and how I always rushed into decisions without evaluating the repercussions. It transpired that my new partner, whom I always saw as a quiet, timid person, also suffered from a form of compulsive disorder. He was obsessed with cleanliness, keeping everything in an orderly manner, punctual and abides strictly according to plan. Eventually, he started insulting me since I was nothing to what he was like. Slowly slowly I felt retracting back to my troubled adolescent years. I was once again being bullied and felt like I had lost everything I had built lately. I even tried to attempt suicide on various occasions. Obviously by time, my new partner left me and once again I felt abandoned. Without knowing, I was back into my anorexia disorder and I am very lucky that I am alive!

The only support I had left was that of my therapist on whom I relied heavily. He patiently worked on the anger and bitterness I had towards my mother and all the partners I had encountered. One day, I started to have this weird, turbulent dream, with a 5 or 6-year-old girl playing with friends - all having clouded faces. I could even hear my mother panicking and screaming in the background "Where is my daughter?". I remember cutting short my dream and waking up scared, and going back to sleep and dreaming again and seeing this girl hiding again. Other times I dreamed of my mother staring at me and angrily asking me "What did you do? What did you do?" while I was terrified because I couldn’t understand and remember what I had done wrong.

It was during one of the sessions with my therapist when I came to my senses. Encouraged by my therapist to recount my dream, I began to remember clearly this girl and the other children when suddenly, as though a veil had fallen from their faces, I began to recognize them. They were two much older children whom I, being such an innocent girl, trusted blindly. I immediately remembered them betraying me while we were having fun playing in my grandmother’s back room.

The confusion and panic that ensued between my mother and grandmother unfortunately shocked me and frightened me a lot. I lost all confidence in myself and for many years I entered into a turbulent sense of guilt and rebellion. The panic that arose after the abuse was so great that I suddenly lost my innocence over something I did but didn’t actually know what it was. So as not to feel the emotional pain, my mind just pushed this ugly experience in me into my subconscious. That is the reason why I couldn’t remember the incident. I was so irritated and uncomfortable with my mother's presence that as a result I made her life a living hell and, in the process, I unknowingly hurt myself a lot.

After that extraordinary therapeutic session, I spoke to my mother about what had happened to me. She did not deny the story, on the contrary, I felt that she understood me a lot and we grew closer and since then she has become my best friend. As a mother myself, I could understand that she too was young and inexperienced and because of that she had made her own bad choices in life. However, I still believe that it is ultimately the parents’ responsibility not to leave their children out of their sight.

I continued with my therapy session that helped me throughout my recovery while being constantly in the life of my daughter whom I love with all my heart. Looking back, I feel lucky to have managed to put all my past trauma behind me. I waited patiently for the right man to come along without having to rush myself searching for him.

Today I am very happy in another stable relationship with the man I love and the father of my second daughter. Yes, there will be moments when life will be difficult and where we will feel weak, but my partner of today understands me, supports me and helps me win over these moments with his great love and genuine stability. And when life gets tough, I look at my daughters and realize how lucky I am to have them and therefore I have to be strong for them as well and do my best to come out of any tough situations I may come across occasionally.

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Anger is a normal human emotion, and can be beneficial in the right context. For example, righteous anger can help us defend ourselves from other people. Unfortunately, inappropriate and frequent episodes of anger can undermine your relationships, career, and health. Shouting, swearing, and throwing objects are all obvious signs of pathological anger, but did you know it’s possible to have a hidden anger problem?

Here are 6 indicators of pathological anger: 

You get regular headaches

When you carry unexpressed tension around in your body, it will manifest itself as aches and pains.

You might suffer tension headaches, migraines, and neck-aches.

Other physical symptoms of excessive anger include digestive disorders and teeth grinding.

If you suffer from eczema or any other condition that is exacerbated by stress, the symptoms might worsen if you have a particularly intense bout of anger.

You avoid conflict

You’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone with an anger problem revels in conflict, but this isn’t always the case.

For instance, if someone knows they get angry but is scared of the intensity of their own feelings, their preferred strategy might be to avoid conflict altogether.

You self-harm

Angry people who can’t or won’t express how they feel to others will frequently take their anguish out on themselves.

If you have an anger problem, you may drink, take drugs, binge eat, or hurt yourself in other ways.

Chronic anger is often accompanied by depression. As Sigmund Freud noted, depression is “anger turned inward.”

Symptoms of depression include a lack of interest in previously enjoyable activities, changes in sleep and appetite, feelings of hopelessness, and excessive guilt.

If you get angry at others, you might feel guilty and ashamed, which will make your depression worse.

You spend a lot of time thinking about people who have hurt you

Do you nurse grudges against others, even if they’ve apologized or it’s been several years since they offended you?

Being unable to release past hurts or grievances is a sign that you struggle to process negative emotions, which can be associated with anger problems.

You are often sarcastic, apathetic, and act against your best interests

Passive aggression is a sure sign of anger.

It manifests as apathy, sarcasm, or a tendency to criticize others.

If you are passive aggressive, you usually feel as though others are taking advantage of you or abusing you in some way, and you don’t have any means of fighting back.

Instead of addressing the problem head-on, you resort to passive aggression instead.

Self-sabotage is another indicator

For instance, someone who is angry at themselves or the world might arrive at work late every day, miss deadlines, or start arguments with their partner.

Note that passive-aggressive people often lack insight into their own behaviour.

You might not feel as though you have an anger problem, but those around you will have noticed your negative attitude and self-destructive actions.

What to do if you have an anger problem

Don’t dismiss your anger as a minor inconvenience or a fixed personality trait. It can have serious consequences if left unaddressed. For example, chronic anger can compromise your immune system, leaving you vulnerable to infectious disease. Volatile anger can lead to fights, which may even be physical in nature. If you are often angry, you are at increased risk of additional mental illnesses and distress.

First, try self-help measures

Regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and meditating can lower your stress levels and reduce the risk of angry outbursts. 

Working on your assertiveness skills and learning how to set firm boundaries can help resolve passive anger, because you will be able to work with others to work through problems instead of suppressing a sense of injustice.

In some cases, you may need to seek out professional help

There are specialist anger management programs. Some offer guidance to people in particular fields, such as those in high-stress professions, or specialize in working with people who have other mental health problems.

One-on-one counselling is another option.

For help choosing the right treatment, ask your regular healthcare provider for advice.

If you are employed, your employee assistance program is a good place to start.

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“A CLEVER person solves a problem, A WISE person avoids it” - Albert Einstein 

 

Prevention means: recognizing the possibilities of harm and preparing oneself beforehand or take action to stop it from happening. The main focus here is for every citizen, adults and especially school children, to never have any reason to resort to any dependency. This “dependency” path starts off as an “experimental adventure” but, when abused, it will eventually lead to the only way of living.

There are two main reasons how one can be prevented from substance abuse:

EDUCATION, where you teach the person that there is no need to resort to drugs to function well in life. Concrete knowledge and moral persuasion about the repercussions of substance abuse, will help immensely in the future formation of the individual; the choices, attitudes and desires of one’s own future.

REALITY, with which you make the person aware of the consequences and repercussions of addiction. It is important to stress on the fact that the price one pays for substance abuse is way higher than the pleasure one feels when using.

It has been proven that the strategic idea of education/persuasion was to lessen its market while the strategy used to emphasize on the repercussions and hard consequences was to deter use. As a matter of fact, both strategies helped in reducing demand and sale, therefore both strategies were an essential and effective form of prevention. 

In every prevention program, just giving information on the harmful effects of drug and alcohol abuse, hardly helps to reduce demand. There is the risk of having the opposite effect by stimulating natural curiosity our youngsters have towards that which is forbidden and enticing to experience.

The most effective method is a combination of both strategies, where all facets of the problem are exposed and discussed openly. There are other factors in life that effect people, mostly youngsters. These are the positive and negatives factors that determine how one would tackle the issue. People experiencing these opposite factors should be given the opportunity to be involved in various strategies regarding prevention.

The latter also include the family, the school, the work place and also places of entertainment. Parents, neighbours and the social community have to stress on the fact that drugs and alcohol abuse are unacceptable. Employees have to give their input as well in this fight against dependency by stressing on the fact that substance abuse and work are absolutely incompatible.

For this collective mission to be credible, the same message needs to be conveyed continuously to both adults and youngsters – that drug and alcohol abuse is wrong. Every substance abuse is detrimental and abusing use will bring negative consequences on both the user and society as a whole. Immediate, serious and effective intervention needs to take place as soon as the first signs become visible.

To conclude, as a society we have to admit that alcohol abuse is the most abused substance in our country. And every prevention program, to be really credible and effective, has to look at this issue in a collective manner.

 

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The OASI Foundation continued to experience an increase in people who used its services due to drug-related problems that are considered recreational.

The Foundation’s Therapy Team works with over 200 cases a year. In 2019, 44% had problems directly related to cocaine use, while 25% asked for help due to alcohol-related difficulties and 9% due to Cannabis. There has been an increase in the use of crack in particular.

These types of drugs are all considered as recreational drugs that are used especially in entertainment settings. But when the use becomes problematic, one starts using these types of drugs even when alone. Many people who abuse recreational drugs, would say that they are not at risk of developing an addiction problem, because they are of the impression that only heroin causes addiction.

On the other hand, heroin use remained low - in fact 16% turned to OASI in this regard.

40% of cases in 2019 had post-secondary education, and 16% studied at university level.

The therapy team carried out extensive therapy work with the relatives of these clients. Apart from specific programmes on both residential and appointment-based services for those with addiction problems, the Foundation offers therapy and programmes for relatives of addicts. It also helps and offers support to employers to help a person with an addiction problem so that the business is not affected as much. The Foundation’s programmes are based on the 12 Steps for Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, and help the individual become aware of himself/herself and build skills and strategies to comprehend a way of living and appreciate life.

The Foundation also offers community outreach and information services on substance use prevention as well as how to live a life away from drug abuse. In addition to the use of social media, these include conferences, publication of articles, talks and courses in local councils and parishes and also activities of a social nature that offer relaxation, such as sports and culture. In total, more than 3,000 hours have been invested in this Social Awareness work.

Through specially designed therapy, the OASI Foundation also helps people who have started experimenting with substances or who are at risk of becoming addicted.

Recently, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the immediate intervention team activated a Helpline, so that people who are going through difficult moments or feel anxious due to what is currently going on, can refer to the help of a professional team. This service also serves to help families going through issues such as poverty who are directed to the services related to their needs.

OASI has the continued support of over 50 volunteers who offer their time and energy in the Foundation’s various programmes and activities. They are also very instrumental in fundraising activities.

The OASI Foundation offers all its services free of charge. And therefore, the recent agreement with the Ministry for the Family, Children’s’ rights and Social Solidarity will be instrumental, as this will enable us to strengthen and increase the services of the Foundation, and add on to the professionalism and skills of the Foundation’s staff.

Anyone wishing to seek help or want more information for a prevention programme tailored to one’s particular needs, can call 21563333 or find us on social media.

Press Coverage:

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Caritas Malta, Sedqa, the OASI Foundation and the Maltese Association of Psychiatry are in agreement that:

  1. There needs to be more sensitivity towards persons who use cannabis.
  2. The Law of 2015 – Drug Dependence (Treatment Not Imprisonment) Act – was an effective law and a step forward so that those persons caught with small amounts [of drugs] for personal use are decriminalized and depenalized.
  3. The law on medicinal cannabis was another step forward, as cannabis has medicinal properties which, when used on the basis of research, are beneficial to the patient.
  4. A person that uses cannabis or other substances should not end up with a mark on their police conduct certificate, or be sent to prison.
  5. It is not fair for these persons to be stigmatized.

At the same time we are concerned that the use of cannabis is being normalised and popularized. The use of the definition recreational cannabis passes on and confirms the message to society that this substance has recreational value.  From our experiences with smoking and alcohol, we know that when a drug becomes more popular, and even legal, there is a tendency that the substance will be used more widely and its negative effects will have greater impact.  This does not mean that if more people are using cannabis this is no longer something we should be concerned about.  On the contrary, we should be asking why this substance is becoming more ingrained in our culture.

We want to give voice to many parents' concerns that their children justify the use of cannabis as medicinal, or due to “everyone using it”. 

We also wish to give voice to research that was published recently, and which replicated [the results of] previous studies, and confirmed that the use of cannabis by adolescents causes great harm to the brain and exposes it to risks of dependence on other drugs. 1

We appeal to all persons of influence, from all backgrounds, to ensure that while they continue to aid in decreasing the stigma against persons who use substances, they also always pass the message to children and adolescents that no drug has recreational value and every drug, including cannabis, has its harms. 

In Malta, there is extensive work in the areas of drug prevention and rehabilitation by authorities, through education, Government agencies and voluntary organizations. We see extensive work done by the Disciplined Forces and the Judiciary. We continue to hope that the laws that are proposed in this respect, strengthen the Law of 2015, to give more leeway to the Judiciary, so as to ensure that no  person who is dependent on drugs ends up in prison, but is helped to find a lifestyle that does not include the use of substances. 

The laws serve as a guide and message to society, so that it can develop fully and to the benefit of all its members. We continue  to hope that the proposed laws do not open windows or doors for people to access drugs legally, and that there is deep consideration of the social consequences and the disadvantages that this can bring upon the most vulnerable members of our society. Among these are adolescents, those with dependence or at a risk of developing dependence on cannabis or other drugs, those who develop paranoia and psychosis through the use of cannabis, those who develop amotivational syndrome (lack of motivation in life) and those who already have intellectual difficulties.  

  1. https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/04/16/1920866117

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