Organized by Dianova Italy, Dianova International and the University of Ghent, the XVI International EWODOR Symposium was held in Rome on 22 and 23 September, with approximately 100 people in attendance.
An open and honest debate on the addiction phenomenon and the empowerment process taking place in the therapeutic community (TC) addiction treatment model.
On 22 and 23 September, 2016 the XVI International EWODOR Symposium was held in Rome, at LUMSA University. Over a hundred people from 14 different countries have attended the presentations of nearly fifty speakers at the various plenary sessions, six thematic workshops and closing sessions.
Under the title: “the therapeutic community model as a tool for empowerment”, the symposium addressed empowerment, a concept closely related to the recovery process, while associating the former with the classical approach to reintegration as well as post-modern theories, in particular those related to emerging approaches to education and the therapeutic community. As was explained by Eric Broekaert from the University of Ghent in his keynote address.
The same concept was later taken up over by Cristina Lizarza, president of Dianova International, whose welcome speech emphasized that empowerment was above all about taking responsibility for the development of one’s own personal resources – an agreed upon approach that the organization Dianova has been developing for years for the benefit of a modern TC.
During two days, the symposium addressed the question of addiction while insisting more particularly on the importance of interpersonal relationships in the recovery process. The speakers emphasized the holistic nature of the TC perspective and its view the “whole person” in all their dimensions. The TC approach allows to implement individualized programs based on in-depth analysis of each person’s needs and expectations. This was confirmed by EWODOR Executive Director, Mr. Rowdy Yates, who also stressed the need for renewed commitment to investment in the TC approach and its quintessential element – community – both the context and method in the change process and the sole approach capable of placing the person in the heart of the program, and of taking into account all of their specific needs.
The EWODOR 2016 symposium also had the merit of leaving room for theories from very different backgrounds, and also of integrating successfully the public and private spheres, an association that is the basis of all successful interventions.
As noted by Mr. Maurizio Coletti, director of the European Institute for Training and Systemic Consultancy (IEFCos), during his speech in the plenary session, the discussion of ideas and the progress of science are critical assets to our society and only through research and open discussion can knowledge be further advanced.
According to Gilberto Gerra, Chief of Drug Prevention and Health Branch, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the Italian model of integration between public institutions and therapeutic communities is functioning well and has even been replicated in other countries because of its having a number of essential component such as insisting on taking one’s life in hand and providing medical support. Although the Italian model has no equivalent in Europe in terms of dissemination and presence of therapeutic communities in the country, yet difficulties persist.
The main reason is due to the lack of scientific evidence supporting the TC model, as compared to other intervention models. In addition, research opportunities are limited by a lack of financial resources stressed Ms. Marica Ferri, from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). Ms. Ferri said that people were now willing to take on the research challenge, and that the scientific basis was much more present now in such documents as the UNGASS or EU strategies.
In conclusion, Elena Goti, of Dianova International, stressed the importance of the contribution of the younger generations who have integrated the therapeutic communities’ professional teams, bringing their enthusiasm, commitment and desire to innovate.
She further emphasized that EWODOR was a genuine model for the integration of different theories, techniques and instruments from various backgrounds and disciplines, with however the sole goal of improving the provision of healthcare services of all those in need of drug treatment.
According to Elena Goti, EWODOR demonstrated that therapeutic community model has changed from a period of time where there was a general distrust of other treatment methodologies, to a new era that is based on cooperation and trust, with a common objective of creating synergies and sharing experiences and best practices to be better able to help those most vulnerable.
Pierangelo Puppo, president of Dianova Italy, stressed that most speakers had emphasized the importance of life in community, experiences shared and the group’s ability to influence people positively.
The TC model has proved its effectiveness in addressing the specific needs of those facing addiction problems, whether adult polydrug users, minors with behavioral problems, people with associated psychiatric disorders, women with dependent children, homeless, etc.
According to Pierangelo, the TC model of addiction treatment might be experienced and replicated to other areas, for the benefit of other vulnerable people. Pierangelo eventually thanked all those who, on a daily basis, are providing assistance and opportunities to those who need it most, with genuine dedication and professionalism.
Event’s photographs by Rafael Muñoz de Andrés from imagenenaccion.org and part of the documents necessary to the symposium were translated by the volunteers from Translators without Borders. Many thanks to you all.