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Nhar it-18 ta' Mejju waqt il-Konferenza Nazzjonali; 'Ix-Xogħol...u l-Addiction?', waqt id-diskors tiegħu, il-Kap Eżekuttiv tal-Fondazzjoni OASI, Is-Sur Noel Xerri għamel referenza għall-statistika li ħarget minn informazzjoni demografika minn dawk il-persuni li għamlu kuntatt mal-Fondazzjoni fl-2021 fejn turi b'mod ċar li l-addiction qiegħda fl-istrata kollha tas-soċjeta tagħna.

Għad-diskors kollu li intqal mill-Kap Eżekuttiv, wieħed jista jagħfas hawn.

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We should be working more towards an inclusive society, where no one should be left behind, whether with addiction or any other social problem, said the President of Malta, H.E. George Vella, during a conference today, the 18th of May. The OASI Foundation, together with the Northern Region, organized a National Conference under the Distinct Patronage of H.E Dr George Vella, President of Malta, with the title ‘ Work…and Addiction? The conference was held at Dolmen Hotel and was moderated by Mr Peppi Azzopardi.

Hon. Dr Michael Falzon, Minister for Social Policy and Children’s Rights, mentioned that everyone deserves a second chance in his video message. He remarked about the reality of the problem of substance abuse in Malta and mentioned that there are two things one could do with this reality; ignore or have the courage to deal with these issues. He encouraged everyone to deal with the issues related to addiction and instead of being judgmental, serve as a helping hand. He highlighted the importance of Work, adding that it gives personal dignity.

Hon. David Agius, Deputy Minister for Inclusion and Quality of Life, thanked OASI for organizing such an event and emphasized talking about addiction issues. He added that working together on policies regarding this matter is essential.

In a video message, Mr. Clifford Galea, President of the Northern Region, spoke about how essential it is to discuss different aspects related to addiction. Ms Anne Marie Fenech Adami, Vice President of the Northern Region, thanked OASI for this conference to discuss matter of addiction and remarked that both the employee and employer are affected in such cases.

In the first part of the conference, Mr Matthew Degiorgio and Charlie Mifsud, on behalf of RISe Foundation, Mr Anthony Camilleri representing YMCA and Ms Miriam Agius, a Senior S

ocial Worker at Mount Carmel Hospital discussed the barriers that could interfere with employment. They gave recommendations to help build an inclusive workforce, homelessness statistics in Malta, and the importance of work as it allows one to connect and be socially involved. They all emphasized the importance of opening doors of opportunity for people who have a problem and seek a job.

In the second part of the conference, Dr Manwel Debono, a Senior Lecturer at the Centre of Labour Studies, emphasized that people working in HR should recognize that the place of Work could hinder or start the addiction problem awareness is essential. Mr Ivan Refalo, on behalf of the Malta Employers Association, remarked about the importance that employers should be informed and encourage and help the employee seek professional help if needed. Dr Roselyn Borg Knight, a lawyer, commented on the significance of prevention before the problem got worse and remarked on the importance

of polices and collective agreement at Work between the employer and employee.

Mr Noel Xerri, Chief Executive of OASI, emphasized that from statistical information gathered from people who contacted OASI in the previous year, addiction is present in all strata of society, which is due to the process known as ‘the normalization of substance use .’He stressed the importance of having the person as the focus of any operation, and that persons with addiction should be approached with a helping hand. He remarked one should look at what policies are in place at Work and whether these policies help people with a problem or indirectly enable addiction. He also stated the importance of having local studies done to show the best practices to be adopted at Work to help both the individual and the employer.

H.E. Dr George Vella, President of Malta, closed the conference by saying it was a well-needed conference. He stated that in the past, addiction was more considered taboo. He remarked that dependency is a complex phenomenon and that no one should be excluded from working. He emphasized that it is crucial to help dependent people and that empathy and reciprocal respect are essential tools to help fight the stigma associated with dependency. Dr Vella also said this is something of concern, and to defend society, it is necessary to invest in education as children will absorb these messages and keep them in mind. He closed his message by remarking that every story is different, and we should never condemn people who have a dependency but respect and understand them.

The audience was an active participant in the National Conference and included representatives from different fields, including government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and persons working in HR.

 

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On the 25th March a lecture was held by OASI Foundation, entitled ‘Co- morbidity: Mental illness and Addiction’. Psychiatrists Dr Chantelle Azzopardi and Dr Joseph Fenech gave further insight during this event, on a variety of mental illnesses together with their relationship with addiction and vice versa. The lecture was well-attended with participants all hailing from different professions mostly related to health care.

Dr. Fenech expressed that major depressive disorder is one of the most common mood disorders out there. Major depressive disorder does not usually know its origins from one specific thing, but rather has causes attributed to varies aspects. Dr Fenech highlighted that depression is not a mere feeling of sadness one might experience as we go through life, but is most often a debilitating disorder. Most often, there is a two-way relationship when it comes to substance use and depression. This is due to the fact that several people make use of substances to deal with the symptoms of depression. Although this might seem as a ‘quick fix’ for their problem, it has the potential of exacerbating their illness, most often, this substance being alcohol. Similarly, to major depressive disorder, people also at times make use of substances as a way to self-medicate during the depressive state. Bi-polar however includes a state of mania or hypomania where the person does not constantly feel down and helpless, but rather experiences of state of increased energy, beliefs of grandiosity, fast and incoherent speech and reckless behaviour. This same reckless behaviour is why most often people then make use of substances. Dr Fenech remarked that comorbidity tends to complicate both mood and anxiety disorders and addiction, therefore it is important for addiction rehabilitation centres and mental health services to work together to improve the chances of success.

Both Dr Fenech and Dr Azzopardi evoked that causation and treatment of disorders is to take place holistically, keeping in mind, biological, psychological and social factors, based on the biopsychosocial model. For instance, during assessment, any medical issues which might be affected the person are looked into. Once these are omitted, therapy can start including the use of medication if these are needed. It was mentioned that medications do not start helping the patient from day one, but would usually need around four to six weeks to take effect.

With addiction, the aspect of self-medication is usually more prominent as people might use alcohol, opiates, benzodiazepines and cannabis as a way of taking the edge of the extremely distressing anxiety. The substances used will very often greatly worsen the disorder.

Dr. Azzopardi remarked that diagnosis in psychiatry is crucial for several reasons, including to help the patient understand their condition better. At the same time diagnosis, can unfortunately, even in this day and age, bring with it a certain sense of stigma or shame. Statistics show that when working with addicts, there will most often be a diagnosis of mental illness. Psychosis, which includes delusions and hallucinations which most often affect memory and ability to function can be drug-induced. This does not take place only when someone is using substances actively but also at times during withdrawals.

Dr. Azzopardi also insisted that there is a relationship between psychosis and cannabis and although this does not mean that whoever uses cannabis will end up with symptoms of psychosis, it is a risk they would be taking. In fact, the more frequent the use of cannabis is, the more are the chances of developing psychosis. When it comes to personality disorders, the most common in addiction are borderline personality disorder and dissocial personality disorder.

Treatment requires several building blocks including being respectful, setting healthy boundaries, building trust and giving time to mention a few, when dealing with dual diagnosis patients. Being direct and empowering also helps the patient to look at treatment more positively as opposed to feeling ashamed or stigmatised due to their conditions.

The OASI Foundation would like to thank all speakers and participants for their participation and contribution.

 

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We would like to draw the attention of all the media that as of this morning, 14 December at 10am, we have not received any reply to our letter to Hon. Joe Mizzi and the members of the petitions committee of Parliament to close the petition proposing amendments to the cannabis law so that they can be discussed by the committee.

According to paragraph 6.1 of the parliamentary committee's guidelines on petitions: "When an online petition is created, it will automatically be open for signature for a period of sixty days. In the event of a wish to shorten or extend this period, a request shall be made to the Committee on Petitions."

According to clause 7.2 the Committee may decide to call on the petitioner to appear before the Committee. It may also request that the petitioner make a brief presentation and / or answer any questions from Members of the same Committee. A petitioner summoned to appear before the Committee may request to be assisted by another person, who may intervene only with the permission of the Committee.

Through a letter sent to Hon. Mizzi, the organizations called for the implementation of clauses 6.1 and 7.2 of the guidelines in order to close the petition so that it could be discussed by the committee. In this way, the petition could be discussed before the third reading of the law. It is clear that the Government will ignore this request and pass the law in  a rushed manner and without any real consultation with the many stakeholders who have spoken out.

By the time the signatures were collected, in just 5 days more than 9375 citizens had signed a petition to parliament to amend Bill 241. Psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, constituted bodies, NGOs that working in the field of prevention and treatment and many other organizations proposed  their amendments to Government which did not accept a single amendment and decided to only listen to one pro-cannabis association.

If this law is passed, it will have very serious consequences for the mental health of many young people and adults and will promote a culture of drug use. While all organizations are in favour of decriminalizing cannabis users, they disagree with normalizing the use of cannabis. This law is being presented as a progressive law for our country but it will have very negative consequences for the wellbeing of the Maltese and Gozitan people.

  1. Caritas Malta
  2. OASI Foundation
  3. Malta Employers’ Association (MEA)
  4. Malta Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  5. Medical Association of Malta (MAM)
  6. Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN)
  7. Malta Chamber of Pharmacists
  8. Gozo Business Chamber
  9. Malta Association of Social Workers
  10. Malta Association of Psychiatry
  11. Secretariat for Catholic Education (SfCE)
  12. Church Schools’ Association
  13. Gozo Tourism Association
  14. Richmond Foundation
  15. MAPA MALTA
  16. International Schools Association
  17. Catholic Voices
  18. Zghazagh Azzjoni Kattolika ZAK
  19. Azzjoni Kattolika
  20. Malta Girl Guides
  21. Home Away from Home
  22. National Foster Care Association Malta
  23. National Parents Society for Persons with Disability
  24. St Jeanne Antide Foundation
  25. Paolo Freire Institute
  26. Millennium Chapel
  27. SOS Malta
  28. Dar Merhba Bik
  29. Youth Alive Foundation
  30. Social Assistance Secretariat
  31. Kummissjoni Djocesana Djakonija
  32. Dar tal-Providenza
  33. Society St Vincent De Paule
  34. Church Homes for the Elderly
  35. Ufficcju Hidma Pastorali mal-Persuni Separati
  36. Mater Dei and Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre Chaplains
  37. RISE Foundation
  38. Dar Hosea
  39. Peace and Good Foundation
  40. Migrants Commission
  41. Kummissjoni Gustizzja u Paci
  42. Osanna Pia Foundation
  43. Fondazzjoni Sebħ
  44. Life Network Foundation
  45. Karl Vella Foundation
  46. Malta CAN (Children’s Associations Network)
  47. National Association of Pensioners
  48. H.E. President Emeritus Marie Louise Coleiro Preca
  49. Professor Andrew Azzopardi, Dean, Faculty of Social Wellbeing, UoM
  50. Dr Claire Azzopardi Lane, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Social Wellbeing, UoM
  51. Dr Colin Calleja, Dean, Faculty of Education, UoM
  52. Dr Michelle Attard Tonna, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Education, UoM
  53. Dr Sandra Scicluna, Head, Department of Criminology, Faculty for Social Wellbeing UoM
  54. Georgina Debattista, Visiting Senior Lecturer, Faculty for Social Wellbeing, UoM
  55. Max Cassar, Department of Psychology, UoM
  56. Angela Caruana - Children's Rights Activist

 

Press Coverage:


Nixtiequ niġbdu l-attenzjoni tal-mezzi tax-xandir kollha li sa dalgħodu, 14 ta’ Diċembru fl-10am għadna ma rċevejna l-ebda risposta għall-ittra tagħna lill-Onorevoli Joe Mizzi u l-membri tal-kumitat tal-petizzjonijiet tal-parlament biex tingħalaq il-petizzjoni li qed tipproponi emendi fil-ligi tal-Cannabis u tiġi diskussa mill-kumitat.

Skont in-numru 6.1 tal-linji gwida tal-kumitat parlamentari dwar il-petizzjonijiiet:“Meta tiġi kkreata petizzjoni online, b’mod awtomatiku din tkun miftuħa għall-firem għall-perjodu ta’ sittin ġurnata. F’każ li wieħed ikun jixtieq iqassar jew itawwal dan il-perjodu, għandha ssir talba lill-Kumitat dwar il-Petizzjonijiet”.

Skont klawżola 7.2 Il-Kumitat jista’ jiddeċiedi li jsejjaħ lill-petizzjonant biex jidher quddiem il-Kumitat. Jista’ wkoll jitlob li l-petizzjonant jagħmel preżentazzjoni fil-qosor u/jew iwieġeb xi domandi tal-Membri tal-istess Kumitat. Petizzjonant li jiġi mgħajjat biex jidher quddiem il-Kumitat jista’ jitlob li jkun assistit minn persuna oħra, liema persuna tista’ tintervjeni biss bil-permess tal-Kumitat.

Permezz ta’ ittra mibgħuta lill-Onor Mizzi, l-għaqdiet talbu li jiġu implimentati  klawżoli 6.1 u 7.2 tal-linji gwida biex tingħalaq il-petizzjoni u tiġi diskussa mill-Kumitat. Dan biex il-petizzjoni tiġi diskussa qabel ma’ jsir it-Tielet Qari tal-liġi. Jidher ċar li l-Gvern se jinjora din it-talba u jgħaddi il-liġi b’mod mgħaġġel u mingħajr l-ebda konsultazzjoni reali mal-ħafna stakeholders li semmgħu leħinhom.

Sakemm baqgħu jinġabru il-firem, f’ħamest ijiem biss iktar minn 9375 ċittadin iffirmaw il-petizzjoni lill-parlament biex isiru emendi għall-abbozz ta’ Liġi 241. Psikjatri, tobba, infermiera, social workers, farmaċisti, korpi kostitwiti, NGOs li jaħdmu fil-qasam tal-prevenzjoni u l-kura u bosta għaqdiet oħra għaddew l-emendi tagħhom lill-Gvern li baqa’ m’aċċetta l-ebda emenda waħda u ddeċieda li jisma’ primarjament minn għaqda waħda li hija r-Relief.

Jekk tgħaddi kif inhi din il-Liġi se jkollha konsegwenzi serji ħafna fuq is-saħħa mentali ta’ ħafna żgħażagħ u adulti u se tippromwovi kultura tal-konsum tad-droga. L-organizzazzjonijiet kollha huma favur id-dekriminilizzazzjoni tal-persuni li jikkonsmaw il-Cannabis. Din il-liġi qed tiġi ppreżentati bħala liġi progressista għal pajjiżna imma se tħalli konsegwenzi negattivi ħafna għall-wellbeing tal-poplu Malti u Għawdxi.  

  1. Caritas Malta
  2. OASI Foundation
  3. Malta Employers’ Association (MEA)
  4. Malta Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  5. Medical Association of Malta (MAM)
  6. Malta Union of Midwives and Nurses (MUMN)
  7. Malta Chamber of Pharmacists
  8. Gozo Business Chamber
  9. Malta Association of Social Workers
  10. Malta Association of Psychiatry
  11. Secretariat for Catholic Education (SfCE)
  12. Church Schools’ Association
  13. Gozo Tourism Association
  14. Richmond Foundation
  15. MAPA MALTA
  16. International Schools Association
  17. Catholic Voices
  18. Zghazagh Azzjoni Kattolika ZAK
  19. Azzjoni Kattolika
  20. Malta Girl Guides
  21. Home Away from Home
  22. National Foster Care Association Malta
  23. National Parents Society for Persons with Disability
  24. St Jeanne Antide Foundation
  25. Paolo Freire Institute
  26. Millennium Chapel
  27. SOS Malta
  28. Dar Merhba Bik
  29. Youth Alive Foundation
  30. Social Assistance Secretariat
  31. Kummissjoni Djocesana Djakonija
  32. Dar tal-Providenza
  33. Society St Vincent De Paule
  34. Church Homes for the Elderly
  35. Ufficcju Hidma Pastorali mal-Persuni Separati
  36. Mater Dei and Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre Chaplains
  37. RISE Foundation
  38. Dar Hosea
  39. Peace and Good Foundation
  40. Migrants Commission
  41. Kummissjoni Gustizzja u Paci
  42. Osanna Pia Foundation
  43. Fondazzjoni Sebħ
  44. Life Network Foundation
  45. Karl Vella Foundation
  46. Malta CAN (Children’s Associations Network)
  47. National Association of Pensioners
  48. H.E. President Emeritus Marie Louise Coleiro Preca
  49. Professor Andrew Azzopardi, Dean, Faculty of Social Wellbeing, UoM
  50. Dr Claire Azzopardi Lane, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Social Wellbeing, UoM
  51. Dr Colin Calleja, Dean, Faculty of Education, UoM
  52. Dr Michelle Attard Tonna, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Education, UoM
  53. Dr Sandra Scicluna, Head, Department of Criminology, Faculty for Social Wellbeing UoM
  54. Georgina Debattista, Visiting Senior Lecturer, Faculty for Social Wellbeing, UoM
  55. Max Cassar, Department of Psychology, UoM
  56. Angela Caruana - Children's Rights Activist

Posted by & filed under OASI Events, Press Releases.

Substance use is becoming more and more normalised, where society’s approach towards drug use is changing quite fast. This abruptness by which societal change takes place does not always ripple down into properly informed individuals. The use of medicinal cannabis has been a controversial topic which raises a lot of questions and concerns.

To help increase awareness and clarify some of the misconceptions on the 24th September an online lecture was held by the OASI Foundation, entitled ‘Medical Cannabis… Myth or                               

Miracle? Dr. Aloisia Camillleri, an addiction consultant psychiatrist was the main speaker and this lecture was held in collaboration with the Malta Association for Social Workers and the Malta Chamber of Psychologists. The lecture was well attended, with a total of forty-nine participants, all hailing from different professions, mostly relating to social sciences.  

Mr. Noel Xerri, OASI Chief Executive introduced the subject, followed by Ms Gail Debono, a warranted forensic psychologist, representing the Malta Chamber of Psychologists. Ms Debono

 spoke about the lack of information regarding medical cannabis, and quoted research which expressed how a large number of professionals require more information in their curriculum as learning professionals. Ms. Kerry Hermitage, a current affairs & PR officer represented the Malta Association for Social Workers, followed Ms Debono’s message, remarking that the issue of medicinal cannabis needs to be evidence based and similar lectures of discussion are essential to help professionals expand their knowledge. She concluded that we need to view issues from a holistic perspective and that it is important that people across the board are all on the same page with regards to information on medicinal cannabis.

Dr Camilleri, the main speaker mentioned that the Maltese Association of Psychiatry are in favour of medical cannabis, only when these is scientific evidence that is beneficial for particular conditions. Conditions that have been backed by research, were medicinal cannabis proved indeed helpful are some types of epilepsy in children, some cancer patients, were medicinal cannabis helped with nausea and lack of appetite, and in some cases of chronic pain. Dr Camilleri remarked that other conditions are only backed with little or no research for one to be able to justify the benefits of medical cannabis. Currently, 1900 people are prescribed medicinal cannabis in Malta.

Dr Camilleri also insisted that medicinal cannabis can be detrimental in some mental health conditions like ADHD, bipolar disorder and depression.

The OASI Foundation would like to thank all speakers, entities and participants for their participation and contribution.

 

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OASI is a non-governmental and not-for- profit organisation with its headquarters in Victoria Gozo. Its operations are deep rooted in the social needs and care of the people with a specific mission to see to the social caring of issues and cases of drug and alcohol abuse and other addictions. The services are open to all and are given free of charge.

Since its very foundation in June 1991, OASI Foundation has continuously created various awareness campaigns and to enhance a positive mentality amongst our community through its slogan Life is beautiful… worth living! Through Social Awareness department has always reached children and youths through innovative ways. Through informal learning, the Foundation can proudly state that it has helped various youths who either were on their first steps of developing an addiction or was an eye opener to seek help to overcome their addiction. More than that, OASI has offered treatment and rehabilitation to hundreds of youths in difficulty to find their way to recovery.

Over the years, the Youths 4 Youths project has always been a huge success with children who attended where they had a great time while learning invaluable lessons. HSBC Malta Foundation

 has been supporting the Foundation since 2013, with the organisation of the Youths 4 Youths project. The aim behind this project is to target Gozitan children and help them socialize with others through edutainment activities, while also providing a safe and healthy learning environment. Despite, the recent uncertainties we have faced this past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year remarked the 8th edition of this event.  We also had 34 young participants whose ages ranged between 6 to 13 years of age. Thanks to Calypso Trains, youths were transported to the Government Experimental Farm in Xewkija, and toured around the premises which provided insight on indigenous fauna and agricultural methods.

Thereafter, the children were back to OASI where they had a quick break and the opportunity to get to know one another. Sports games were also organised by Ms Mary Angie by which we aim to promote a healthier lifestyle, both physically and mentally.  At the end of the activity, a certificate of participation was awarded to the children for their attendance. This activity will ultimately help children to view the OASI Foundation not only as an institution, but as a safe place where people can seek help if they should ever be involved in any social problems.

The OASI Foundation would like to thank HSBC Malta Foundation for the sponsorship along the years, as without its help, such an activity would not be possible.

 

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It can be very overwhelming going into rehab for the first time; thoughts and feelings start to pound on you; What will I expect? What can I do and what is forbidden? It is completely normal, to feel anxious or nervous, excited and eager to start working towards your recovery, perhaps also angry, that you have reached this point of exaggeration in your life, together with a mixed array of confusing thoughts and emotions.

The alarm goes off at 6am, giving time for the fellows to wake up and get ready for the morning meditation at 6.30am. As soon as that is over, we put on our walking shoes and we are off for a morning walk at 7am just round the neighbourhood to get our hearts’ pumping early on in the day. Arriving back to the premises, breakfast is prepared and we all sit down for the most important meal of the day. Fostering a healthy lifestyle is key for recovery.

Then it’s 10am, we gather around for the first group of the day, The Feelings Group. Entering this group for the first time can be a bit intimidating as this is the time where the person is asked to remove their masks and render themselves vulnerable to their insecurities and paths that led them to the red chair they are sitting on. Do not fear this as this is the stepping stone you need to start uncovering what has led you to your present situation. You will relate to others, and others will relate and find comfort in you. After a few groups, you will start to wonder, ‘maybe I am not alone and people can indeed understand what I am going through.

Being in recovery is more than just not using; it’s an ongoing process of growing together with  healing mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It is also a process of acquiring daily living skills such as cooking and doing chores. Keeping yourself and your surroundings clean helps you to have a clear mind and that is why at 11.15am, the fellows start to clean the residential home. Tasks are assigned and everyone gets to do their part for the benefit of the whole group.

During recovery, the body will go through many changes and thus, the benefits of eating healthily can give the body a better chance of recovery as it will increase your energy levels. Lunch is prepared and at 1pm, fellows and staff sit down for lunch together.

After lunch, the dining area is cleaned and you will have some time to relax and prepare yourself for the second group of the day. At 2:30pm, The Afternoon Groups are never the same.  This is because they are centered around a specific purpose, such as Goal Setting Group, Honesty Group, Peer/Group Evaluation, and Week Evaluation. These types of groups will help you to focus one thing at a time and gives you a space to work on yourself with the help of the other fellows’ feedbacks.

The evenings vary according to what day it is, and you have the time to be more at ease and work on your therapeutic pamphlets and do some readings. You gather with your fellows again to have dinner together at 7.15pm, and then watch the news at 8pm. At the end of every day, you have the chance to keep a personal journal, also known as the significant events, to keep track of how your day has evolved.  Finding time to relax and unwind is also imperative for one’s recovery. Fellows can enjoy a game of UNO together and have a good laugh before retiring to bed at 9.45pm.

That’s about it, a general day at OASI. However, we cannot leave out other activities that might be enjoyable by the fellows which vary throughout the week. Going to the beach during summer and watching movies during the weekend are two things that fellows look forward to.

But simplifying a day in a rehab does not give it justice, because every day is a different day with new challenges that we must learn to face. However, once in recovery, you are never alone and finding help and support from the fellowship is a benefit that you will have access to in times of need.