With reporting by Ankita Menon
A new center designed to treat people in Qatar for alcohol and drug addiction will officially open in March after a trial launch.
The Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre (TRC) began accepting up to 28 patients in temporary accommodation last summer, before moving into expanded premises in October with 125 beds, according to the Peninsula.
Although the TRC currently only treats male nationals, the center may expand in the future to cater to female Qataris and expats based on demand, CEO of the TRC Dr. Mohamed Al Thani told journalists earlier this week.
The center is building on the work of another temporary center in Al Rayyan, which was announced by the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) in 2011.
This significant expansion of treatment options for addiction in Qatar is part of an effort both to treat the country’s addicts, and to break the stigma attached to substance addiction in Qatar.
A ‘significant’ problem
Drug and alcohol abuse is a significant problem in Qatar, according to TRC medical director Dr. Mounir Soussi.
He told journalists in April last year that between 3 to 5 percent of Qatar’s population is addicted to either alcohol or drugs. Additionally, he told a press conference this week that the full scale of the problem isn’t known, as no official statistics are currently kept:
“We have suggested the idea of creating a system to calculate the numbers of patients suffering from addiction to the Supreme Council of Health (SHC) from time to time.
This system will identify patients through their IDs or health cards for precision of treatment. We are waiting for SCH approval to proceed with the system,” he said.
He added that many addicts fail to seek help in Qatar due to the stigma attached to addiction here.
He’s said in the past that the majority of adult patients in Qatar are addicted to alcohol, while many younger patients are addicted to amphetamines and cannabis.
To help the TRC deliver the best service possible, the SCH has announced several tie-ups with international centers of excellence, including Italy’s San Patrignano Community and Uninettuno University, and the UK’s Maudsley-International.
The San Patrignano Community boasts a 72 percent success rate for addicts, and it’s being brought in to assist with the center’s education, prevention and rehabilitation programs. Meanwhile, Uninettuno University will offer online Master’s courses in psycho-social rehabilitation, and Maudsley-International is conducting training for the center’s senior clinicians.
Tracey Power, Managing Director of Maudsley International, told Doha News that the TRC is placing importance on involving addicts’ families in the treatment:
“The SCH and TRC are very attuned to the fact that in Qatar there is very significant stigma attached to addictions, so a key element of their approach is to work with communities to support a better understanding of the issues, and to develop services that specifically meet the individual needs of the service users and their families.”
The Maudsley’s first Qatar-based training course, held earlier this week, included a section on “family therapy interventions.”
However, it’s soon to move to even larger premises. The public works authority, Ashghal’s website confirms that a much larger, official home for the TRC is currently being built in Mesaimeer, due for completion at the end of this year.
The new 250 bed complex will include a social club, five villas, a rehabilitation building, separate buildings for men and women (and a building dedicated to teenagers), as well as a mosque, grassy areas and swimming pools, the website states.