The tiny African island of Zanzibar struggles with heroin addiction, and many people are addicted to heroin that is imported from Asia. Treatment options are limited here, but some recovering addicts have reached out to help others.
According to Voices of America, addicts gather outside of Stone Town, Zanzibar to talk about what is like to have one’s life fall apart, and what it takes to restore it. These twenty men belong to a ‘sober house’, and many addicts in the area claim this is one of the best ways to get clean. There are 9 sober houses in Zanzibar, 8 for men and one for women. These houses were set up by Suleiman Mauly, a recovering addict who spent 4 years living on the streets. He has been clean for six years, after attending an expensive treatment center in Kenya.
Mauly recognizes that many addicts do not have the money for these expensive treatment options, and he started these sober houses as a response to his concern for other addicts. The sober houses are not free, and they cost the addict around $100 a month. Many of these addicts are supported by their families to cover this cost.
Treatment that looks at addiction as a disease, rather than a crime, is relatively new in Zanzibar. Mauly said, “If someone finds out he’s got an addiction problem, they are just thinking how they can punish him instead of helping.” The innovative program at these sober houses is based on the 12 Steps, but Mauly has also integrated art therapy, yoga, and acupuncture. The men are taught carpentry, and free time is spent doing sports and meditation.
Another revolutionary feature of the sober houses in Zanzibar is that the addicts take charge of running the facility. Mauly believes this helps them to be accountable, while building self confidence.
Image courtesy of Voices of America.