Italian web story: harm reduction

Published: 1 December 2010 10:30 CET

By Philippe Garcia, former drug addict working for the Italian Red Cross at Villa Maraini in Rome, Italy
 
“I started to take drugs quite young, when I was about 14 or 15 years old. They were light drugs like cannabis and alcohol, but over the years I started to take heavy drugs like heroin. Then, to get the same effect, I had to take bigger quantities... which caused money problems, so I started to deal. Then that little world I had created, it was so artificial and it just collapsed... I found myself in jail, having heroin withdrawal. I had even forgotten what it was, because it had been years since I had a withdrawal. When you are a drug consumer, you almost always manage not to be in need. It’s then that I got to know the Villa Maraini Foundation – a joint venture of the Italian Red Cross. I knew about methadone but I had never taken it. I talked to them and they invited me. As soon as I got out of the court, I went directly to Villa Maraini. There is also a place where you can see doctors and psychologists so you can talk to them. I was convinced of what I wanted to do, and I was convinced that I needed help, but I was really surprised by the welcoming (attitude) of the people working there, full of humanity, smiles. You arrive there and the first thing that they ask you is if you want a coffee, if you want food. After that it took one-year-and-a half to reintegrate into society. I was lucky that when I started this programme in Villa Maraini and the Italian Red Cross Detoxication and Harm Reduction Centre, they were thinking of creating an office for fundraising with the EU (European Union), not only in Italy but also elsewhere. I have a degree, and I speak English, so they offered me the job. I accepted instantly, because it was easier for me to stay inside than to go out. I do a job that I really like. I’m proud of what I have done... I have a new relationship with my parents, which I never had before. I have been talking to them for years now, I mean really talking. It’s paradoxical, but on the emotional side, the way I live my life everyday... I feel better, much more positive than before. Before I had to use heroin to feel positive. That’s impressive and it’s everyday—Everyday I am telling myself this. Basically that’s it.” 
 

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