Weak reintegration of rehab graduates blamed for relapse in drug addiction

Parents celebrate with their children after a past graduation ceremony at Iwawa Rehabilitation and Vocational Skills Development Centre in Rutsiro District. Photo: File.

As drug abuse and alcoholism continues to be among the major social challenges faced globally, measures have been and are being taken by governments to curb the vice.

UN data indicates that, globally, the harmful use of alcohol results in 3.3 million deaths each year, 31 million people have drug use disorders, and that almost 11 million people inject drugs, of which 1.3 million are living with HIV, 5.5 million with hepatitis C, and 1 million with both HIV and hepatitis C.

This could get worse, with the annual prevalence for illicit drug use of 5.6 per cent, and cannabis being the most used with some 192 million users globally.

Also, an estimated number of drug users has risen by 6 million to 246 million in 2018.

In Rwanda, delinquent youth are taken to rehabilitation centres either by authorities or their families, where they are rehabilitated, and imparted with vocational skills before they are reintegrated in the community once they graduate.

10 per cent relapse

However, 10 per cent of the graduates end up relapsing and going back into drugs, which makes chances of ever fully rehabilitating them slimmer and with it comes more danger to society.

Aimé Bosenibamwe, the Director General of the National Rehabilitation Services (NRS), offered some insights about this.

“The reintegration process is not yet fully successful. For example, some of Iwawa graduates have different problems, family problems, where some are orphans who don’t have a way of reintegration into a family. This could lead them back to where they were in search for survival,” he said.

Located on an island in Lake Kivu, Iwawa Rehabilitation and Vocational Training Centre churns out thousands of graduates annually after not only rehabilitating them, but also equipping them with different vocational skills.

Bosenibamwe added that the strategies of reintegration; jobs, engaging families, solving family disputes, and keeping the youth busy, among others, have not been strengthened enough in the past years, and this leads the graduates to backslide.

“The government is seeking ways to implement strong reintegration mechanisms, by engaging all stakeholders in this process.”

Bosenibamwe explained that they record a relapse once a rehabilitation centre graduate is admitted again, but the NRS is undertaking research to assess the impact and effectiveness of rehabilitation centres, which will include the actual figures of those who relapsed, not necessarily only those that are readmitted.

‘Beating illegal in rehabs’[

Meanwhile, there is an ongoing court case involving an alleged violence committed by hip-hop artist, Francis Uwimana, widely known as Fireman, who was being rehabilitated at Iwawa and graduated last year.

He is being co-accused with Cpl Modeste Murwanashyaka, who was an instructor  at the centre and with whom they are accused of using violence on students under rehabilitation, including beating them up.

Uwimana was among student leaders at the centre.

During the interview, Bosenibamwe said it is illegal to use any kind of violence in rehabilitation centres.

“It is illegal to beat a trainee in rehabilitation and transit centres, or commit any kind of violence against them. Our laws are very clear for; a teacher, care giver, or even the psychologist, anyone.”

Bosenibamwe added that if such a case happened, the offender would be punished.

“That is why we even have that case in court, they are under investigation. You cannot train someone that something is bad, and then do something illegal to them.”

He added that this is the first case they have registered, where people have allegedly violated someone’s right at any of their rehab centres.

Bosenibamwe called upon the public to help the Government in rehabilitation of youth that are involved with vices like drug abuse and theft, among others.

He added that people should report any kind of abuse of rights they could have faced while in transit centres, so it wouldn’t be a hindrance to the Government’s efforts to eliminate delinquency.


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