The arrest of the television presenter Marcelo “Teto” Medina along with 16 other people for the crimes of reduction to servitude Y abandonment of person for his role in the institution The reason to live put the focus once again on the role of therapeutic communities, popularly known as rehabilitation farms, in the treatment of people with drug addictions.
Until now, medina and the rest of the members of the organization are investigated under the criminal classification of “reduction to servitude, forced labor, illicit association, usurpation of authority and title, and breach of the duties of a public official.” In the investigation, the Court of Guarantees No. 8 of Florencio Varela, in charge of Adrián Villagra, verified that The reason for living is not authorized to function as a community.
How rehabilitation farms work
Paul Galfrejournalist and author of The community, trip to the abyss of a rehabilitation farm (Editorial Sudestada, 2017), assures Page 12 that, in many cases, to speak of “rehabilitation centers” is to “raise their price”, and affirms that those institutions that operate illegally are rather “clandestine detention centers”.
The specialist explains that most of these types of communities work behind closed doors, that is to say that boarding schools cannot leave. In addition, the hospitalization is often given against their will, and a Request from relatives or acquaintances of addicted people.
In this particular case, The reason to live it was presented as an “open-door community”, where each person could come and go as they pleased. “They say that it is not a place behind closed doors, but that the kids do not leave”, Galfre points out on this particular point.
The origin of the communities
The prestigious psychologist, holder of the chair of Public Health and Mental Health at the University of Buenos Aires alice stolkiner explains that the origin of these therapeutic communities was linked to the process of penalizing consumption. “They arrested a boy because they found marijuana and the judge could send him to prison or to rehabilitation. They were compulsory admissions. The institutions were paid for each internship, ”she says, consulted by Page 12.
Do all farms operate illegally?
It is important to note that not all rehabilitation communities act illegally. However, in this particular case, the reason for living was not registered with the Federation of Non-Governmental Organizations of Argentina for the Prevention and Treatment of Drug Abuse (Fonga).
The former national deputy and author of the National Mental Health Law, Leonard Gorbaczadds that this regulation “promotes the integration of addiction treatment into the health system, for primary care centers and hospitals to offer treatment and even hospitalization”.
However, it clarifies that “regarding existing devices, including farms or therapeutic communities, it is proposed that, until the integration of the system is achieved, they progressively adapt to the mental health law”. “This implies that they can count on interdisciplinary teamsto work with other institutions in order to achieve social inclusion in the shortest possible time, among other variables”, he remarks.
Violation of Human Rights
After focusing on the legal and regulated process through which a person can be interned even against their will and according to the protocols established by the Mental Health Law, Gorbacz remarks that the farms that work “with the logic of rewards and punishments as a central treatment strategy they usually commit situations that could be qualified as torture”.
For example, situations of confinement in isolation cells are recorded. A few months ago, at the end of May, the prosecutor Germán Camafreitas in charge of UFI No. 3 in Pilar requested the arrest of five defendants for the fire and death of four people in the San Fernando Resilience therapeutic community, located in the town of The Lonja.
“The victims were overmedicated because of the cocktail and quantities of psychotropic drugs that they were supplied with, they did not even have the possibility of reacting to the incident, ”he assured after what happened Roberto Cipriano Garciageneral secretary of the Provincial Commission for Memory.
“It depends on whether you have the willpower to ask for help. Don’t be scared. Don’t be fooled. It depends on whether you have the willpower”, is heard to say to the own Teto Medina in several videos on his social networks where he promotes The reason for living. But, Do voluntary drug use treatments work?
For the former deputy Gorbaczalthough “a certain commitment is needed, without which it is very difficult to achieve recovery”, there is no solution in which the person only remains “for a time away from substances”.
“The problem with many of these devices is that instead of focusing on obtaining that commitment and working on a possible life project together with the person, they focus on withdrawal from the substance and punishment as a form of rehabilitation. And the truth is that the results are bad from the therapeutic point of view, and catastrophic from the perspective of Human Rights”, he says.
“I see that in many communities of this type, even when there is a recovery, the life of the person is linked to the care of people in recovery. Because of that there are raised a debate about these prolonged internments in institutions that are much less expensive for those who invest and that they are also monovalentthat is to say, of a single specialty, which functions as an institution of confinement”, he adds, for his part, Stolkiner.
Illegal, but public
On this point, Galfre highlights a central point: Although in many cases they operate illegally, “they are very visible.” They are shown on social networks, in the local media and, above all, through billboards on public roads that point directly at the addicts themselves or their families.
This is linked to another key aspect to understand why this type of organization penetrates so deeply into society, and it has to do with a Relatively inexpensive alternative for family members of hospitalized personswhere they also do not have to initiate treatment through the channels established by law, which in many cases is denounced as ineffective, as expressed in the case of Philip Pettinatomonths ago.
“Any involuntary hospitalization in mental health must be reported to the competent court and to the Local Review Body. That is essential, because an involuntary hospitalization is a restriction of a fundamental right, and can be performed for therapeutic reasons but under strict control”, explains Gorbacz.
Rehabilitation farms: who wins
For Galfrethese rehabilitation centers, where “treatments are never finished”, end up benefiting the organizations themselves who “profit” making interned people work in tasks of all kinds, even outside the institutions, as in the case of maintenance work in the homes of the directors of the organizations.
To prevent these abuses, the national law provides for “the right of users of services to receive fair compensation for their work in case of participating in activities that involve the production of objects, works or services that are later marketed, ”he explains to this medium Gorbacz.
“The state also benefitsbecause as it does not have adequate treatment centers, these places fill that gap in some way and pharmaceutical corporationsbecause these places medicate at close range”, adds the specialist.
Farms and pending debates
“I understand the desperation of the relatives, they often feel that the person runs a certain or imminent risk, although they are not yet at that point. Part of it has to do with the risk of illegality. The circuit in which they must enter for consumption and the lack of quality of what they consume”, he comments Stolkiner.
In addition, he points out that family members usually request hospitalization. “If she were the mother of a person who is destroying herself, she could even ask to be put in jail as long as they save her life. But we have to think of another form of response”, graphic.
“You have to have a debate that goes beyond the field of health and drug war, that killed more people than the drugs themselves. You should think about building more intensive outpatient services attention to consumption problems and accompany them with community practices of integration”, concludes the specialist.