人不能的,誰可以?——信仰戒毒

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1993 / 7月

文‧張瓊方 圖‧鄭元慶


自從屏東縣東港查獲價值新台幣百億元的毒品走私,暴露了社會上毒品泛濫的問題後,反毒就成為最新的「全民運動」。在各界討論聲中,有一個現象較少為人注意——戒毒成功的案例多與宗教信仰有關。


誰將罌粟花種於路旁任令她飄香

純良的她不知花險惡沉溺在她的幽香

沾上她大好壯志會頹喪

沾上她健康快樂也盡喪

將花燒光不許生地上

罌粟花偏偏豔麗向斜陽

每天早晚,「晨曦會」戒毒村裡廿位戒毒者,在牧師弟兄們的帶領下,一再唱著這些鼓舞人心的詩歌。

從外表看來,他們和常人無異,唱著詩歌的虔誠模樣,甚至像是團契裡的弟兄姊妹;事實上,他們都是「重量級」的吸毒者,原本也不信教,在試過各種方法都不成功後,最後來到這個宗教戒毒的團體,試圖跟上帝打交道。

一日吸毒,終生戒毒

今年卅七歲的朱聰陵,家境優渥,長得一表人才,卻已有廿四年的吸毒歷史。國中二年級因好奇,開始吸食毒品。凡是會讓人茫茫然的藥他都吃。曾有一次吞下十六顆藥,送醫急救第八天才醒過來。三次婚姻,都因為吸毒離婚,他還兩度為此自殺。兄弟姊妹更是連搬家都不敢讓他知道,怕他又上門來騙錢買毒品。

廿多年來,朱聰陵進出勒戒所、私人診所、精神醫院已不下卅次。「一進去就是綁起來,打針讓我睡覺」,朱聰陵表示,每次出來的第一件事,還是吸毒。

最後一次,朱聰陵來到榮總精神科戒毒,過了兩星期的戒斷期後,「榮總戒癮小組」的主治醫生葉紅秀告訴他:「現在只有晨曦會救得了你了。」就這樣,朱聰陵抱著姑且一試的心理來到晨曦會。

所謂的「福音戒毒」,是指藉著宗教的力量,禱告、讀經、協談等方式,來幫助人戒除毒癮。許多曾經沈迷毒海中的人,經由這樣的方式成功的戒了毒。他們現身說法,也用同樣的方式幫助與自己有同樣困境的人。晨曦會牧師劉民和就是這樣一個例子。

回頭兼顧弟兄

劉民和十五歲在香港加入幫派,為了充老大,開始學吸毒。半年後,當他發現自己上癮的那一刻起就想戒,「戒了十年毒,也吸了十年毒,母親為我流了十年的眼淚」,劉民和表示,他試過把自己關起來、逃到海上當船員、到台灣來念書等方法,都沒辦法徹底戒除毒癮,在母親的苦苦的哀求下,他終於來到香港基督教人士專門幫助吸毒者戒除毒癮的晨曦島,接受福音戒毒。

在晨曦島待了七年,劉民和不僅戒了毒,也找到了生命的價值和尊嚴,並開始「回頭兼顧弟兄」。民國七十三年,劉民和帶著一位傳道士來台灣從事福音戒毒工作,創立了「晨曦會」。九年來,陸續成立了台北的「姊妹之家」,苗栗、台東的「戒毒村」。

其他像花蓮「主愛之家」,屏東「沐恩之家」,高雄「基督教戒癮協會」等,都是與晨曦會相類似的福音戒毒機構。

「聽福音可以戒毒?有影無?」「戒毒要是那麼簡單,我老早就戒了。」試過各種戒毒方法總是不成功的人,第一次聽到信仰可以助人戒除毒癮,總是抱著懷疑的態度,有的甚至嗤之以鼻。人說「一日吸毒,終生戒毒」,光是憑藉著信仰的力量,真能戒除這吸食者難以克制、親朋友束手無策、醫生難以根除的毒癮嗎?

根據台北市煙毒勒戒所的追蹤調查,離開勒戒所四個月之內未再吸毒的比例,只有百分之十六。至於四個月後如何,則難以掌握。

戒毒之道

為什麼毒那麼難戒?

戒毒分生理戒治,心理戒治兩個階段。目前全世界生理戒治的方法,大致可分為三類:

第一種是「替代品療法」。這種治療方式是以長效型的鴉片製劑,如美沙酮來代替毒品。因為其毒性很小,效果又長,可以慢慢減低用量的方式戒除毒癮。其優點是痛苦少,較人性化,對已成癮者而言,既可穩定生活,又能減低犯罪。缺點是,戒斷期較長,也可能成癮或有被濫用之虞。

目前美國、香港都使用這種方法。台灣因美沙酮這類藥劑仍屬於管制藥品,無法採行。

第二種是「症狀療法」。也就是針對不同毒品的戒斷症狀配藥,使用鎮定劑、止痛藥等藥物,幫助病人度過急性期的痛苦。這種方法的優點是,戒斷期很短,大約只要一星期。缺點是需有人在旁照顧,且戒毒者較會有痛苦感。

目前勒戒所、公立醫院,用的就是這種方式。

身毒易除,心毒難戒

一般的私人診所,多半用簡便的「昏睡療法」替病人戒毒。

這種方式是使用安眠藥、鎮靜劑,讓戒毒病人在昏睡中度過戒斷期。這種方法並不符合醫療原理,因為藥物很可能會用過量,而且鎮靜劑用過後,會有不適感。

第一階段的戒毒並不難,困難的是第二階段的心理戒治。台北市煙毒勒戒所醫生黃亨興認為,吸毒是一種慢性行為問題,需要長期的心理輔導來糾正。醫師只能做初期的急性處理,接下來的工作應該由社工人員來做。

目前正在對「主愛之家」的個案進行研究調查的慈濟醫院精神科醫生王浩威也認為,戒毒者心理、社會、家庭、人際關係的重建,是一個很大的工程。如何讓接受完生理戒治的人不再走回頭路,這才是戒毒工作的重點。如今戒毒工作之所以成效不彰,其實是第二階段的戒治工作沒有做好所致。

「在醫生幫助有限,又無法憑藉自己的力量時,用信仰來填補是個有效的方式」,王浩威說。

誰把我兒子變胖了?

一位母親到戒毒村裡探望戒毒的兒子,當兒子來到面前,這位母親竟差點認不得。原本吸毒吸得骨瘦如材的兒子,短短三個月胖了十幾公斤。不僅身材、外貌變了,連說話的態度也變溫和了。

信仰真的能改變一個人?劉民和表示,福音戒毒是藉助上帝的話,讓人重建正確的人生觀。只有如此,才能讓戒毒者真正解除毒品的捆綁,不會再走回頭路。

信仰戒毒在方法上完全不用藥物,只是憑藉禱告、讀經、牧師及弟兄的安慰和鼓勵,度過這段痛苦期。

有人懷疑這樣的戒毒方法是否人道?葉紅秀認為,信仰戒毒在一開始的急性期雖然很不舒服,但並不致危害生命安全。目前醫院採用的症狀療法,限於藥品管制,對於痛苦的症狀也只能減輕,無法完全消除。

何況,戒斷期的痛苦,其實並非無法忍受。黃亨興以嗎啡類的麻醉藥品為例,這類毒品在戒斷時會產生焦慮、打哈欠、起雞皮疙瘩、冒冷汗、噁心、嘔吐、拉肚子、肌肉抽搐……等症狀。

「整個過程就像得一場重感冒似的,只要三、四天就會好轉」,不過黃亨興表示,此刻戒毒者心理的恐懼、無助,卻有如「生離死別」一般。這時候過來人和同伴的支持和鼓勵,就相當受用。

人的盡頭,神的開始

禱告就是一種力量的泉源。

劉民和抓住任何一個帶領眾人禱告的機會,無論是三餐飯前、就寢前,上課、聚會的開始或結束,都需要一段虔誠的禱告。戒毒者陳秉軍表示,剛開始毒癮犯的時候真的很想跑,「但是弟兄們一直鼓勵我,一群人圍著我禱告,我感動得眼淚直掉」,陳秉軍記憶猶新地說,就是這股力量伴隨他度過痛苦的戒斷期。

此外,曾有切身經驗的過來人也扮演著重要的角色。劉民和表示,自己吸毒十年,對吸毒者的心理暸若指掌。他指出吸毒人的共同特性是:懶惰、欺騙、詭詐、好高騖遠、自卑、狂傲、沒有安全感、不信任別人、禁不起挫折、也禁不起成功。

「吸毒本身不是犯罪,但吸了毒以後做出來的事就是犯罪」,劉民和說,吸毒人為了取得錢財買毒品,女的不惜出賣肉體;男的則想盡方法去騙、偷、搶。吸毒把一個人的思想、價值觀都扭曲了。「要糾正這些偏差的觀念,得靠經驗、花時間跟他們磨。」劉民和解釋,這時過來人的經驗就是最佳的工具。

領悟在個人

讀經也對許多人產生意想不到的效果。

在晨曦會的姊妹之家戒毒已一年三個月的洪美英表示,聖經裡的話語帶給她很大的信心和力量。聖經說:「立志行善由得我,只是行出來由不得我。」「這句話真是一針見血,是所有吸毒人的寫照」,洪美英表示,吸毒人不是不想學好、不是不想戒,但就是做不到。「為了那一針、那一顆藥,我們什麼事都可以做,已活不出尊嚴、活不出人性」,她說。而明白接受了自身的軟弱,把自己交給赦免人罪的上帝,許多人逐漸獲得新生。

雖然信仰戒毒這種心靈治療方式,已獲得多數人的肯定。但並不是每個人都可以經由這種方法成功戒毒。

信仰是絲亳強求不得的,所謂「師父領進門,修行在個人」,有些人三、四個月就能從中獲得信心和力量;有些人七、八個月依然「蒙查查」的,亳無領悟。

「我把這裡的生活當成苦刑」,來了四個多月的羅素蘭說,至今她還是沒有太大的感動,她還在尋找活著的意義。「沒找到以前我不敢出去,否則一定走回老路上」,她說。

戒毒路難行

像羅素蘭這樣的例子不在少數,還有更多半途而廢的失敗案例。劉民和指出,九年來進出晨曦會戒毒的,大約有四百多人次,但大多數都中途離開。留下來的人不到五分之一;而留下來的人當中,真正能終身戒毒成功的人,不到三分之一。

此外,由於部分毒品戒癒時的危險性,信仰戒毒也不能完全取代醫療戒治。像酒精、安眠藥戒斷時,少部分的人會有抽筋現象;「安非他命」中毒時,會產生幻聽、幻覺等精神症狀。

然而,戒毒村並不是醫療機構,不能用藥。部分的信仰戒毒機構,已經計畫與精神科醫生合作,希望能對安非他命造成的精神症狀進行醫療。

劉民和則建議有心戒毒者,不妨先到醫療機構進行生理戒治,再到戒毒村接受心理戒治。

讓醫生專門醫療身體的毒,把心理的毒交給民間機構來治療,或許是不錯的戒毒之道。

僧多粥卻少

信仰戒毒的工作受到肯定,連法務部都將它列為心靈治療的一種方式。但在需求者眾的情況下,現有的機構早已不敷所需。

由於堅持工作人員必須是曾經戒毒成功的過來人,晨曦會在苗栗、台東的戒毒村,只能分別收廿個左右的戒毒者。然而,排隊等著進戒毒村的已有二、三百人。

目前佛教團體也積極地籌備類似信仰戒毒機構。新近成立的「台南市戒癮協進會」,就是由佛教團體組成的組織。社工莫素芬表示,尚在籌畫硬、軟體設備的戒癮協進會,原定民國八十四年開始收個案,但是籌備處一天平均接到三、四通詢問電話,「這麼多需求,催促著我們要加快速度。」

莫素芬說,屆時戒癮協會裡將並容各種宗教,讓戒毒者自己選擇心靈重整的方式。

在目前僧多粥少的情況下,部分戒毒村面臨擴充太快、人手不足的危機。葉紅秀說,如果新人一下進來太多,彼此產生不好的影響,那麼過來人的影響力就極為有限了。

人人都有可能吸毒

毒品危害日益嚴重的今天,反毒的口號喊得漫天價響,卻少有人真正瞭解毒品的可怕,體認戒毒的困難,關心戒毒者的需要。

值得慶幸的是,過去被視同犯人的吸毒者,今天已被當成病人看待,對於戒毒者的心靈整治,有些人已默默地做了好幾年。然而,這樣的工作需要更多人的了解與支持。

而最重要的是,社會大眾不能對毒品掉以輕心。「人人都有可能上癮」,葉紅秀說,唯有每個人有這樣的認知,戒吸第一口,這反毒戰役才有勝利的希望。

戒毒村的戒毒者,仍流著淚唱著這首詩歌——「不再回頭」。

有些歌可以一唱再唱,有些事可以一做再唱。

可是吸毒的路千萬千萬不要再回頭。

不回頭,再回頭又是一身難洗的汙垢。

不回頭,再回頭又是一串愚妄的拚鬥。

不回頭,再回頭又是一番難斷的恩仇。

〔圖片說明〕

P.52

當用盡所有人力都無法戒除毒隱時,或許藉助信仰可以加強信心和力量。

P.54

戒毒村裡不光是戒毒,連煙、酒都要一併戒除,主愛之家對「新近人員」較寬容,特准他們偶爾抽根煙。

P.55

家人前來探望正在戒毒的女兒,為她帶來喜愛的鮮花和食物。

P.57

信仰戒毒村的環境與禁森嚴的勒戒所不同,走入戒毒村就像近入一個大家庭。(劉偉群攝)

P.58

晨曦會裡的過來人,以自己的經驗告訴後輩,只要有信心,戒毒一定成功!(張敏儀攝)

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近期文章

EN

Where to Get a Drug Fix

Chang Chung-fang /photos courtesy of Cheng Yuan-ching /tr. by Phil Newell

After the discovery of a drug cache worth an estimated NT$10 billion in Tungkang in Pingtung County unveiled the depth of the drug problem insociety, the fight against narcotics has become the latest "citizens' movement." Amidst all the discussion, one aspect of the problem is getting little attention: most instances of successful rehabilitation are connected to religious faith.


Who planted the poppy by the roadside/To let its fragrance drift as it will in the breeze/Pure in his heart, he knew not the dangers of the flower/And he drifted deeper into its curious fragrance/Taking it/Goodness and vigor are soon lost/Taking it/Health and happiness disappear/Burn the flowers and let them not grow in the ground/The poppies every where lean toward the light of the sun.

Each day, morning and evening, the twenty drug-dependent patients in the "Operation Dawn" drug rehabilitation village sing morale-building songs like these under the direction of the priests.

They look no different on the outside than anyone else. Their look of sincerity as they go through the songs and psalms makes them look like boys and girls in a church choir. In fact, they are all "severe-case" addicts who originally had no interest in religion; they only came to this religiously- affiliated drug rehabilitation group after all other efforts had failed, giving God his chance.

Addicted for a day, in rehabilitation for life:

Chu Tsung-ling, now 37, comes from a family of status and is not without talents, yet already has a 24-year history of drug addiction. He began taking drugs as a second-year middle school student, out of curiosity. He took anything and everything that could make a person high. Once he swallowed sixteen pills at once, and had to be rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment; he regained consciousness only after eight days. He married three times, each time ending in divorce. He tried to kill himself twice. His brothers and sisters didn't dare tell him when they moved to a new address, fearing that he would show up at their door to beg or cheat money to buy drugs.

Over the past twenty years, Chu has been in and out of rehabilitation centers, private facilities, and psychiatric hospitals no less than 30 times. "As soon as I went in they tied me up and gave me a shot to make me sleep," he states. The first thing he did upon getting out was invariably to get a fix.

The last time Chu went to the rehabilitation center at the Veterans' General Hospital. After a two-week rehab period ended, Dr. Yeh Hung-hsiu, head of the "Drug Rehabilitation Team," told him: "Only Operation Dawn can save you now." Feeling anything was worth a shot, Chu came to the Operation. So called "Gospel rehabilitation" means relying on the power of religion, prayer, scripture- reading, and discussion to help people kick narcotics. Many people once adrift in the sea of drugs have successfully reached shore with these techniques. They tell of their own experience, and they use similar methods to help people with the same problem as themselves. Operation Dawn priest Simon Liu is a case in point.

Looking back to help his brothers:

Simon Liu joined a gang in Hongkong when he was 15, where he began taking drugs to behave like the gang leader. When he discovered half a year later that he had become addicted, he immediately thought to quit. "I was quitting for ten years, and taking for ten years, and my mother shed ten years of tears," he recalls. He tried locking himself up, signing on for a stint as a crewman at sea, coming to Taiwan to study.... none of these worked at thoroughly curing him of narcotics. Under his mother's repeated entreaties, he finally went to Hong kong's Dawn Island, where a group of Christians was running a program specially designed to help drug addicts. There he accepted Gospel rehabilitation.

In his seven years at Dawn Island, Simon Liu not only ended his drug dependency, he also found dignity and meaning in his life, and began to "look back to help my brothers." In 1984 Liu brought a missionary to Taiwan to undertake Gospel rehabilitation work and established "Operation Dawn." Over the past nine years, the "Sisters' House" (in Taipei) and two "drug rehabilitation villages" (in Miaoli and Taitung) have been set up.

Other groups, like the "House of the Lord's Love" in Hualien, the "House of God's Grace" in Pingtung, and the "Christian Drug Rehabilitation Association" in Kaohsiung all likewise are institutions using the Gospel rehabilitation method.

"Can listening to the Gospel cure one of drug addiction? You must be kidding." "If quitting was that easy, I would have quit long ago." Those who have failed repeatedly trying the alternatives always are sceptical when they first hear that faith can help one to reject drugs. some ever sneer. It is said that if one is "addicted for a day," then one is "trying to quit for a lifetime," so many wonder how faith alone can succeed in taming addictions that the users, friends and family, and doctors could not.

The road to rehabilitation:

According to a study by the Taipei Municipal Anti-Narcotic Center (ANC), only 16% of those who leave the center have not again taken drugs within four months of their release. Who knows how low the figure gets after four months.

Why is it so hard to reverse addiction?

Drug rehabilitation includes the two stages of physical and psychological treatment. In terms of physical rehabilitation, there are basically three varieties in use around the world. The first is "drug substitution." This method uses opium derivatives like Methadone to substitute for the drugs. Because they are relatively nontoxic and of long-term effectiveness, addicts can kick their habit by gradually reducing intake over time. The advantage is that this method is less painful and more humane, and it can stabilize the lives of addicts and reduce crime. Its weakness is that the rehabilitation period is ex tended, and there are concerns of excessive use of or addiction to the substitute product.

Right now this method is used in both the United States and Hongkong. It cannot be adopted in Taiwan because items like Methadone are still controlled substances.

The second method is "symptom treatment." This is to prescribe medications for the various symptoms of different types of narcotics, employing tranquilizers and painkillers to help patients get through the trauma of short-term withdrawal. On the plus side, the rehab period is short -- usually about one week. On the down side, it requires on-the-spot care, and it is also more painful for the addict.

Currently the ANC and public hospitals use this approach.

The body is willing but the mind is weak:

In general, private hospitals generally use the most convenient method--curing drug dependency through induced sleep.

This method relies on sleeping medications and tranquilizers to permit the patient to pass through the withdrawal period in a soporific state. This approach is by no means consistent with treatment principles, because it is easy to use excessive amounts of medications; moreover, there will be discomfort after the use of the tranquilizers.

The first stage of drug rehabilitation is not all that hard. It's the second stage--psychological treatment--that is most demanding. Huang Heng-hsing, a physician at the ANC, argues that drug ad diction is a chronic behavioral problem, and requires extended psychological guidance to rectify. Doctors can only undertake short-term emergency treatment, and the next stage should be taken over by social workers.

Wang Hao-wei, a doctor at the Tsu-chi Buddhist General Hospital, who is currently undertaking a study of cases at the "House of the Lord's Love," contends that the reconstruction of the addict's psychological, social, family, and interpersonal structures is a major project. The focus of rehabilitation work should really be on how to get those who have accepted physical treatment to reject turning back to where they came. The reason why rehabilitation work has not been very successful to date is that this second task has not been properly attended to.

"When doctors can only do so much, and one cannot rely on one's own strength, using faith to compensate is an effective method," says Dr. Wang.

Who made my son so fat?

One mother who went to the rehab camp to look for her son almost didn't even recognize him when he was standing right in front of her face. Her son had degenerated into a mere skeleton while taking drugs, but in three short months had gained more than ten kilograms. And it was not only his exterior that had changed--his whole attitude had moderated.

Can faith really change a person? Father Liu states that Gospel rehabilitation uses the word of God to help people reconstruct a healthy philosophy of life. Only in this way can addicts truly release themselves from the bonds of dependency, and not end up on the same old street.

This approach does not employ any medications, but depends only on prayer, scripture reading, and the comfort and encouragement of the priest and other patients to get through the painful withdrawal period.

Some wonder whether this approach is humanitarian. Yeh Hung-hsiu believes that although the initial withdrawal period under healing-through-faith can be uncomfortable, it is not life threatening. Anyway, due to the limits of medications, the method currently used by his hospital can only lessen, and not fully eliminate, the pain.

Further, it is by no means impossible to stand the pain of the withdrawal period. Taking anesthetic drugs like morphine for example, Dr. Huang says that giving up drugs of this type will cause symptoms like anxiety, yawning, goose pimples, cold sweats, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and cramps during the withdrawal period. "The whole process is like having a bad case of the flu, and the patient will begin to feel better after three or four days." However, notes Dr. Huang, the sense of fear and helplessness in this period may indeed feel like "being on the edge of death." At this time, the support and encouragement of friends and of those who have been there can be very useful.

God begins where man leaves off:

Prayer can be a source of strength.

Simon Liu takes every opportunity to lead people in prayer. Before the three meals, at bedtime, at the beginning and end of class or meetings, there is always a period of prayer. Chen Ping-chun, a recovering addict, states that he really wanted to run away at the beginning, "but the others here continually encouraged me and a group of people surrounded me in prayer. I was so moved I began to cry." Chen recalls that it was this force that helped him through the painful period of withdrawal.

Furthermore, those who have been through the experience before play an important role. Father Liu states that he himself was addicted for ten years and so has a good idea of how addicts feel. He points out that the common features of addicts include laziness, deception, cheating, grandiose ambitions, inadequacy, boastfulness, insecurity, a lack of trust in others, an inability to overcome disappointment, and an inability to succeed.

"Taking drugs itself is not a crime, but the things one does after becoming addicted are criminal," says Simon Liu. In order to get money to buy drugs, girls do not stop at selling their bodies, and boys will do anything to lie, cheat or steal

Addiction completely distorts a person's thinking and value systems. "The only way to rectify these deviant views is to rely on experience and time to work through with them." Father Liu explains that in this period the experience of those who have been there is the best tool.

The individual has to walk the path:

Reading scriptures also has an unexpected effect on many people.

Hung Mei-ying, who has been in treatment at Operation Dawn's Sisters' House for one year and three months, says that the words in the Bible give her a great deal of confidence and power. The Bible says "something to the effect that people may know what they want to do but still be unable to do it. "This idea is really on the mark and is a perfect description of all addicts," states Ms. Hung. It's not that those dependent on drugs don't want to get better or don't want to quit, its just that they can't do it "We are willing to do anything for that needle or for that pill. We've already lost all dignity and all humanity," she says. Many people draw strength from the idea of a god who understands their weaknesses and sacrifices himself for their sin.

Although the method of rehabilitation through faith has been affirmed by most people, it is not successful for everyone.

Faith is not something that can be forced. It is said that "the priest can only lead the way through the door but it is the individual who has to walk the path." Some people gain confidence and strength from faith after only three or four months while others still have no comprehension after seven or eight.

"I see this as being like hard labor," says Luo Su-lan, who has been here four months. Up to the present she has still not felt any great revelation and she is still looking for the meaning to life. "Until I've found it I don't dare to leave; otherwise I'll end up in the same old rut," she says.

The road to rehabilitation is rough:

There are not a small number of cases like Ms. Luo. And there are even more cases of those who fail along the way. Simon Liu points out that there have been 400 admissions to Operation Dawn in the last nine years, but the vast majority quit before finishing. Less than a fifth stayed the course. And among those who remained, less than one third were truly able to give up drugs for their whole lives.

Furthermore, because of the risks involved in giving up some drugs, rehabilitation through faith can not completely replace physical therapy. For example, during the withdrawal period from ethyl alcohol or sleeping medication, some patients may suffer cramps. Those on amphetamines may have hallucinations or other psychological symptoms.

However, the rehabilitation villages are not medical institutions and cannot employ medications. Some religious rehabilitation centers have already planned to work with psychologists in hopes of treating the symptoms created by amphetamines.

Father Liu also suggests to those who wish to kick the habit that it is best to first go to a hospital to undertake physical treatment, and then go to the rehabilitation villages for psychological treatment.

Perhaps leaving the treatment of the body to doctors and turning psychological dependency over to civic groups is really the best method of drug rehabilitation.

Too many monks and too little rice gruel:

Rehabilitation through faith has become so accepted that even the Ministry of Justice has listed it as a type of psychological treatment. But with the vast demand that exists, existing institutions provide an inadequate supply.

Because they insist that staff must be former drug addicts who have been in this situation themselves, Operation Dawn's Miaoli and Taitung centers can only take about 20 addicts each. Meanwhile, there are two or three hundred people waiting in line to enter the centers.

At present, Buddhist organizations are preparing similar institutions. The newly established Tainan City Drug Treatment Association has been set up by a Buddhist group. Mo Su-fen, a social worker, indicates that the association, which is still preparing its facilities, had originally planned to begin accepting cases in 1995. But the preparatory office now receives three to four calls per day on average, "and with so much demand, this is pushing us to quicken our pace."

Mo Su-fen says that the association will accept all types of religion so that the patients themselves can choose the method for saving their own souls.

Given the current situation of "too many monks and too little rice gruel," some centers are facing a crisis of overly rapid expansion and inadequate staffing. Dr.Yeh Hung-hsiu says that if too many new people enter at once they will have a bad influence on each other and the impact of the other more seasoned residents will be limited.

Anyone could become drug dependent:

Today, as the threat from drugs increases, anti-drug slogans fill the air. Yet very few people truly under stand the terror of drugs, the difficulty of quitting drugs, and the need to feel concern for those addicted.

Fortunately, drug dependent individuals who have in the past been seen as criminals are today being treated as patients. Some people have already been working at saving the souls of these addicts for many years. Nevertheless, this type of work requires even more understanding and support.

Most importantly, society should not underestimate drugs. "Anyone could become dependent on drugs,'' says Dr. Yeh. Only if everyone has this knowledge and rejects taking the first bite can the war against drugs have a hope of victory.

The patients at the rehabilitation village still have tears in their eyes as they sing the song "No Looking Back."

Some songs can be sung repeatedly/Some things can be done over again/But don't go back onto the road of addiction! Don't look back/Going back is a stain that is hard to wash away/Don't look back/Going back is a blind and desperate struggle/Don't look back/Going back creates hatred from which it will be hard to break free.

[Picture Caption]

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When all human efforts to treat drug addiction have failed, maybe faith can lend new confidence and strength.

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It's not only drug addiction that requires rehabilitation--cigarettes and alcohol are addictions too. The "House of God's Love" is relatively lenient, however, occasionally letting residents light up a smoke.

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A family visiting their daughter who is undergoing rehabilitation brings her favorite flowers and food along.

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The environment at Gospel rehabilitation is quite different from the Taipei Municipal Anti-Narcotics Center. Entering the religious rehab village is like entering a big family home. (photo by Liu Wei-chun)

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At Operation Dawn, those who have already successfully been through pass along their experiences to others. With confidence, you can kick the habit! (photo by Chang Min-yi)

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