Magazine article Anglican Journal

New Start for Youth after Addiction

Magazine article Anglican Journal

New Start for Youth after Addiction

Article excerpt

Along the Thai-Burmese border, refugee camps grow overcrowded with displaced Burmese ethnic people. Youth in the camps deal with the loss of family, homes, freedom and opportunity, leaving many with nothing to do but turn to alcohol or drugs to cope with the pain.

PWRDF partner DARE (Drug and Alcohol Recovery Education) has been the only addiction recovery program catering to refugees in the area since 2005. DARE now operates in five camps as well as many villages along the Thai-Burmese border in Karen State, Burma.

DARE encourages physical activity and sports to get teens active and draw them away from drugs and alcohol. On any given day at the Mae La Refugee camp, you can find teens in a game of Ultimate Frisbee. The sport has become such a mainstay at the camp that the Bangkok Soi Dawz Ultimate Frisbee team has adopted the camp as their official charity, donating clothing, equipment and even training refugees in the sport.

In the surrounding area where DARE operates, the typical treatment for youth who struggle with substance abuse is to "beat the addiction out of them." However, DARE founder Pam Rogers wanted to combine useful western knowledge with other interventions more familiar to the community. DARE uses acupuncture, traditional herbal medicine, yoga, physical activity and nutrition to help treat teens struggling with addiction.

One thing noticeably absent from DARE's treatment program is the use of medication. "We don't use drugs for drugs," said Rogers, "We look for healthy replacements, other ways to help them. …

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