Reformed Addicts Need Jobs, Not Freebies

Reformed Addicts Need Jobs, Not FreebiesReformed Addicts Need Jobs, Not Freebies

Philanthropic gestures by NGOs and individuals to help reformed drug addicts or those on their way to recovery, most of whom are homeless, have created problems instead of helping them, says Leila Arshad, social worker and founder of ‘Khane Khorshid’ (sun house) charity.

At a meeting “Pathology of Addiction and Social Work,” held at the Society of Students Against Poverty (Imam Ali’s Popular Students Relief Society), she said, “Aid to the homeless should be rendered under the supervision of social workers and experts,” the Persian language newspaper ‘Iran’ reported.

At present there are several homeless people who have gone through detoxification for drug addiction, but there is no mechanism to support them return to normal life. “If unemployed, addicts on their way to recovery may relapse to their former state.”

“Humanitarian aid can be spent on more useful things like empowering reformed addicts,” Arshad said.

There are specific associations which give rehabilitated addicts loans at low interest rate once they are declared sober for six months. But at present most of the recovered addicts lack the funds for self-employment, she said.

Criticizing charitable institutions that are providing free food for homeless addicts, she said, “By doling out free food, we are encouraging them to stay addicted. Since they receive meals daily, they no longer are motivated to get help or undergo treatment.”

A charity ‘End to Homelessness’ has made provision to supply free food in Shoush Street in district 12 in southern Tehran, which has the highest number of homeless (almost all of them drug addicts).

Ali Heidari, one of the 2,000 members of the charity says, “We distribute 5,000 meals among addicts in Shoush and Darvazeh-Ghar streets each day.”

 Medical Services

However, he notes that the efforts are not limited to food distribution. “We provide the homeless medical services and have employed several people to give free haircuts and other hygienic services.”

“We are also planning to provide them clean clothing,” he added.

Arshad maintains that the NGO’s activities cannot be effective in reducing the number of addicts and homeless people and could add to their numbers.

“It is unfortunate that our philanthropists are wasting money and time on such measures which may even prove unproductive.”

Addicts are often seen to fight over food and many of them sell their meals to buy illegal drugs, she noted.    

Pointing to the deteriorating condition of shelters for the homeless, she said, it is unfortunate that both addicts and non-addicts are housed in the same quarters; therefore all homeless shelters across the city have been turned into homes for addicts.

“More social workers and a better monitoring system to control their behavior are needed,” she added.