The Islamic ruled nation of the UAE has always upheld the strictest of control over affairs such as dress code, public decency and amongst others, alcohol and drug consumption. Drug possession or use is 100% forbidden and addicts are often faced with serious jail time. A drug offender can be sentenced to jail for at least two years, with more serious offenders facing 10 years or more behind bars, life imprisonment or even death sentences.
Whilst the civil and criminal punishments for possession, being under the influence or distributing is a major deterrent for most Emirati, the truth is that the Emirates, like any other country, still has many difficulties with alcohol and drug abuse. Because of these taboos, addicts living in the UAE often stay quiet about their affliction, rather than seeking help. 5.3% of the total deaths in the Emirates each year are related to alcohol or drug abuse, according to the National Rehabilitation Centre of the UAE, making pertinent the reality of the problem. The National Rehabilitation Centre in Abu Dhabi published a report in 2015 in which it estimated the annual cost of drug addiction to the UAE’s economy was Dh5.5 billion. (Over R21 billion.) This research, backed up by the United Nation’s Office of Drugs and Crime discovered that large quantities of addicts are school dropouts and that a minimum of 45% of these addicts are unemployed.
Alcohol, prescription drugs like Tramadol, hashish and cocaine seem to be the current addiction trends, although in many cases it seemed that the most prevalent drugs being abused was crystal meth and opioids. Alcohol abuse is more common among western expats where it is believed that Arab nationals tend to steer towards drugs. In 2014 it was reported that Arab nationals accounted for 54% of drug users in the UAE, and that addiction among women was on the increase. The most common reasons for addiction in the UAE are peer pressure, family troubles, boredom and the increased availability of drugs. Often times people are seen falling into addiction out of pure curiosity, trying something new and getting hooked.
Keeping it hush-hush
While there are local rehabilitation centres in the UAE, many still prefer to seek treatment internationally. This is around privacy reasons, so that addicts don’t run the risk of losing a job, or a visa, or draw too much unwanted attention. Often time excuses such as being on vacation, or traveling are used.
Twin Rivers offer UAE clients exclusive addiction treatment in its South African based rehabilitation facility. Twin Rivers specialises in treating addiction disorders, including gambling, dual-diagnosis disorders, trauma, depression and anxiety disorders. The superior levels of confidentiality that Twin Rivers maintains help international clients feel safe and secure. It offers UAE clients first class residential treatment that caters for clients requiring Halaal food. Furthermore it applies client-focussed programmes that afford both individual and daily group sessions, lead by professional clinical psychologists, addiction and step work counsellors. A typical day begins with a brisk walk to the awe-inspiring nearby beach. Daily lectures and workshops are presented and relaxation such as yoga, art, drama and drumming is implemented.
Twin Rivers is also home to Dragonfly Interventions, where David Briskam, a professional interventionist will travel to family homes anywhere in the UAE to assist the family in getting the client into residential treatment of their choosing. David Briskam, director of Twin Rivers, is a UK accredited addictions therapist and has over 23 years of continuous recovery from alcohol, drugs, gambling and co-dependency. He can literally walk anyone through the challenges they thought they could not overcome, making the impossible possible.
The Twin Rivers approach
Twin Rivers believes that residential treatment works best when a client is distanced from their families for a while, and thus does not practice a family inclusive approach. It is suggested that a client stays in residential treatment for a period of three months. Upon their return to the UAE they are encouraged to make use of aftercare, which takes place in the form of regular sessions with a therapist. As there is always a deeper reason for addiction the team at Twin Rivers takes care to individualise each client’s programme and to look at things such as co-occurring disorders that may be the result of trauma or relationship issues. Twin Rivers takes great care in focusing on the issues, situations and lifestyles a client will be returning to, in order to prevent a client from relapse upon returning to some of the things they were trying to escape from in the first place. Clients are furthermore encouraged to attend NA meetings in the UAE and to place healthy support systems in place.
Twin Rivers is proud to have successfully served a multitude of international clients from countries such as Asia, The Middle East, America, England, Europe and Africa. It is never too late to make a change and although South Africa seems a long way away, the world-class treatment that the Emiratis and Expats will receive at Twin Rivers is comparable to the best rehab programmes in Europe, and comes at a fraction of the cost. Not to mention the lush environment and stunning beaches of the picturesque town of Plettenberg Bay, which Twin Rivers call home.
“Sometimes we motivate ourselves by thinking of what we want to become. Sometimes we motivate ourselves by thinking about who we don’t ever want to be again.”