Drug rehab center in Turkey’s Gaziantep provides education, job opportunities for addicts
Gülden Aydın – GAZİANTEPA drug rehabilitation center in Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep is first of its kind as it not only provides addicts aged between 12 and 18 with treatment, but also offers accommodation, education, and job opportunities to them.
The center, with its 57 personnel, helps youth who are addicted to drugs overcome their addiction and get back to living a normal life.
The Oya Bahadır Yüksel Rehabilitation Center was established by the Gaziantep Municipality in 2008 and has a bed capacity of 40.
The center has an indoor swimming pool and various workshops. Patients attend collective therapies, where they have a chance to speak about their problems. They are also provided diction training in order to help them express themselves better. They also have the opportunity to attend trainings on theater, painting, music, textile, photography, and handicraft.
Former Family and Social Policies Minister and current Gaziantep Mayor Fatma Şahin monitors the progress of these children closely, ensuring that they have an access to job opportunities afterwards.
Following their treatment, the patients are sent to the Münir Onat Children and Youth Center if they are to continue their education, or to the Akınal Children-Youth and Family Center if they are to be trained for a profession. After they receive the proper training at these centers for six months, the youth are not left on their own to survive on the streets; instead, if their family environment is not suitable, they take shelter in Yarı Yol Houses until they join the army.
According to Prof. Dr. Cenk Yancar, a psychiatrist and the head of the center, the biggest advantage of the center is that it is a space for adolescents only, allowing them to begin their lives from scratch, as transformation among adults has been recorded to be quite limited otherwise.
As the adolescents still develop their personalities, they can turn into a totally different person during the treatment, according to Yancar. The center aims for “positive peer culture” and in support of this, it allows the former patients who previously completed their treatment in the center to visit the current addicts.
Following their treatment, the patients do not lose contact with the center. As was the case of three of the executives at the center, two sociologists and one social services expert, who were former patients of the center before completing their university degrees after their treatments.
A former addict, Erdimert Yaşar, 16, said he started to use drugs at the age of 13. “My father was also using hashish and pills. Then I started to commit theft by breaking into houses drug sellers showed. I decided to get treatment one year ago. Today, I have been discharged and celebrated it by cutting a cake. I am proud. I work in the forestry products industry,” he said.
“My target is to continue my education through distant learning. It is so good to get a paycheck. It does not all of a sudden show up and then disappear like theft money. I sent my mother on holiday to Adana [southern province] on Mother’s Day,” he noted.
Another former drug addict, Cumaali Çelik, 23, said he stayed at the center for six months at the age of 17 and has been clean since.
The center’s program was created by David J. Powell, a former clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine, and his team.
The ashes of Powell, who died in an accident two years ago, upon his will, were scattered around the Oya Bahadır Yüksel Rehabilitation Center’s garden.