A drug treatment program for young backpackers with psychosis due to Cannabis use

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1 A drug treatment program for young backpackers with psychosis due to Cannabis use H.Mell Israel AntiDrug Authority 1

2 Backpacking The post-army backpacking trip has become a significant social phenomenon in Israeli society over the past 20 years. According to estimates of the Israel Anti-Drug Authority, the Foreign Ministry and other bodies, close to 50,000 young Israelis go on backpacking trips each year, Around 30,000 of them go to the Far East, usually to India 2

3 Backpacking & Drugs Studies show that there is very wide drug use among Israeli backpackers abroad (Mevorach, 1997; Simchai, 1998; Bar- Hamburger, 2004, Paz & Potasman, 2005, Mell 2011 ) The most commonly-used drug among backpackers is Cannabis - Marijuana, Hashish, Indian Charas. In less common use - Mushrooms, Cacti, Ecstasy, LSD, Cocaine. 3

4 Passport cover Starting in 2011, in medical centers that provide vacines before travel abroad, passport covers are distributed free Prevention - Education and information In the internal pockets: How do I know that my friend has mental problems? First Aid what can I do for him? Telephones of agencies who can give information and help 4

5 Between prevention and treatment The Israeli Home alternative to self treatment The initial diagnosis of drug victims and immediate aid are very important and may significantly influence the likelihood of deterioration or improvement in the patient s condition and the likelihood of developing mental disorders in the future. Backpackers mentally affected by drug use are afraid of receiving treatment in a foreign place, using public services that don t always meet Western standards. Sometimes we find young people in a psychotic state who are taken care of by their friends, who hide them and don t guide them to the treatment needed. 5

6 Between prevention and treatment The Israeli Home The Warm Israeli Home serves as a place of meeting for backpackers and provides a range of activities and services, such as: books for borrowing, music, movies, internet, phone, and activities to prevent drug use First aid and assistance for young people who need to be rescued and returned to Israel. So far the Home has provided a first response to hundreds of backpackers in distress. (going down from hard cases, to 1-3, every year) 6

7 Rescue Case story going to Varanasi with Magnus To bring back home G., suffering psychosis due to massive use of Charas. Treating with simple common sense

8 IZUN (harmony) village Treatment was established to treat and rehabilitate young people suffering from mental health problems due to the use of hallucinatory drugs, most of them during backpacking trips The village s therapeutic outlook means that it is not possible to adopt the approach of treatment for addiction, when the main problem here is not addiction.

9 Immediacy. One of the recommendations of Kfar Izun is that treatment begins immediately upon patients return from abroad, and that the village is ready and equipped to receive patients immediately after getting off the airplane. Proximity. The villageis located on the beach and the patients rooms are similar to bungalows. In addition, the treatment staff (almost all of whom were once backpackers themselves) makes sure to recreate some of the environments and experiences from the trip. Expectations. Each patient is told that the crisis s/he experienced is temporary and will pass quickly, and s/he will return to normalcy after a short period (3-4 months) at the village. Approximately 80% of those accepted to the village are treated with psychiatric medications. 9

10 No. 49 Data of backpackers in Kfar Izun Average age 22.7 M 61% F 39% Arrive from: East Asia 74%, South America 13% How came back home? By himself 55%, by professional rescue 25%, friends 15%, family 5% When was the crisis? First month of the trip 9%, second month 9%, more than 4 months 82% Types of drugs: Cannabis 100%, other hallucinogens - 40%, Cocaine 30% (approximately). Psychiatric or Psychologic treatment in past 52% ADHD 18% Status of parents: M 70%, D 22%, W 8%. Military service : Combatant 63%, not combatant 37% 10

11 Results? In a research made by Haezrahi, Shabtay & Bar-Hamburger (2006( about 115 patients (among them,not all were backpackers) who stayed in Izun between , the summery was, according the psychiatric evaluation: 24% full recovery 39% improvement 31% chronic mental dis. (in remission) 6% no improvement. 11

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