Pubdate: Fri, 16 Sep 2005
Source: Businessworld (Philippines)
Copyright: 2005 BusinessWorld
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Its leaflet states, "Your second chance." The Rising Phoenix
Therapeutic Community offers clients hope that they will be restored
from their previous dependency from various sources.

Looking from outside the 1,000-square meter facility in Tagaytay City,
the surrounding look like a hideaway of a middle class family from
Metro Manila. Facade of the rehabilitation center

The abode is actually for those struggling for a second chance after
rehabilitation. Rising Phoenix is a treatment and rehabilitation
center for people who became victims of various dependencies,
including drugs and alcohol and dysfunctional behavior.

The residents, or the dependents undergoing rehabilitation, related
their experience.

Roy, 33, had been to five drug rehabilitation centers. Before he
entered Rising Phoenix, he has reached rock bottom and almost lost his
sanity. He hoped that he would make it this time, if only for his
six-month-old son.

"Ngayon, meron na akong [Now I have a] second life. Dito ko nakilala
ang sarili ko [This was where I discovered myself], said Roy, a
product of a broken show business family, where he claimed "nobody
guided" him.

Melvin, 17, was pronounced dead twice due to excessive drug use and
has death certificates to attest to them. He has been an addict since
he was nine years old. This is his third rehabilitation bout.

Jim, 51, a businessman, has been into drugs and alcohol for 35 years.
When he "graduates" from Rising Phoenix, he plans to reconcile with
his wife, with whom he has been separated, and renew their marriage

"At first, it [stay in Phoenix] was hard. But now I feel better. I can
now accept and do the things I couldn't before. I am now starting to
like myself," said Cecille, an emotionally suppressed person who has
been living with her grandparents after her parents have separated
when she was six.

Roy, Melvin, Jim and Cecille were only among the 20 residents -- aged
16 to 60 -- in Rising Phoenix who came from all walks of life.

Nurturing, motivational and holistic -- these were how Bernard
Termulo, Rising Phoenix executive director and executive
vice-president for facility and program, described the center's
approach in the rehabilitation of various addictions and dysfunctional

"The reason they are here is that they are already down. We have to
encourage them to know themselves and the reason of their addiction.
We pick up from where they are and help them rise from their
situation," said Mr. Termulo, himself a recovering drug dependent.

Opened in February 2004, its founders -- a professional psychologist
and a Harvard-certified substance abuse counsellor, three recovering
dependents and a parent of a recovering dependent -- brought with them
in establishing Phoenix their 50 years of accumulated experiences in
previews centers.

The nonstock, nonprofit and nongovernmental organization got its
Department of Health certificate of accreditation in May.

Rising Phoenix uses the therapeutic community modality, where there is
dynamic interaction between the dependents and the professionals
(psychologist, social workers and nurses) and paraprofessionals
(recovering dependents) in the center.

Believing that there is no single treatment method that is effective
for all dependents, Rising Phoenix uses various or eclectic
therapeutic methods that offer many options for recovery.

Among its approaches are the 12-step principles being used by many
rehabilitation centers worldwide, psychotherapy, spiritual,
nutritional, fitness and other counselling and therapeutic techniques.

The center took it one step higher by allowing the co-managing of
certain cases with the doctors who were previously treating the dependents.

"The doctors even go to the facility and treat their patients there.
The doctors are very happy about this. In the past, the psychiatrist
just refers his patient to the center. That's it. That's the extent of
his participation. Now, the doctor can visit and give his input. The
fact that he is a professional we give weight to that. We don't know
everything, so we are open to it," said Oliviere Belmonte, executive
vice-president for administration.

Among the center's programs are educational, spiritual, family and
integral continuing care.

The educational program consists of formal education through lectures,
counselling, seminars and training on drug addiction. It also has the
experiential form, wherein dependents apply tried and tested methods
that have worked for others, including those of the Phoenix staff and
counsellors. It is a recovery plan based on selflessness combined with
effective clinical and psychological methods, and spiritual strength.

Spiritual program is an important component of the recovery process.
Flavy Villanueva, soon-to-be-ordained Roman Catholic priest and who
was once a drug dependent, provides spiritual guidance to the residents.

Members of the family undergo regular seminars, therapy groups,
counselling and continuous dia-logues with their loved ones. It aims
to provide the families with the right attitude, inner strength and
basic skills needed to achieve family healing.

The program was borne out of the realization that 75% of dependents
come from broken or dysfunctional families. "Our families have
different levels of dysfunctionality," Mr. Termulo said.

Residents disclosed that there were times when the families were in
denial of the situation and do not immediately subject their children
to rehabilitation.

"The common perception is that the family has a problem because
somebody is into drugs. But it's the other way around. The family has
a problem that is why its member is into drugs. It is the family
system and the attitude of the person taking drugs, said Mr. Belmonte.

In its continuing care program, dependents and their families enjoy
and benefit from a lifetime support system of fellowship, counselling
and therapy. It is designed to maintain all the positive gains the
dependents and their families have achieved, and as a relapse
intervention for the dependents.

As part of its mission, members of Rising Phoenix staff also discuss
the ill effects of drug dependency in schools and communities as part
of the center's anti-drug abuse campaign, said Mr. Belmonte, who has
been in recovery for 10 years now.

The Rising Phoenix program is relatively shorter -- six months of
residential and six months of integration stages -- compared with the
other centers of 15 months. Prior to these is the pre-admission stage
where the dependents undergo medical, psychiatric and psychological

The treatment starts at the in-house or residential stage, where
residents are motivated to be grounded in reality and to accept their
addiction. They live in a structured, caring and healing environment
and are given the chance to address the negative attitudes and
personal issues that "imprison" them.

At the end of this stage, the dependents are expected to be equipped
with tools and expertise to face life actively with confidence.

After the residential stage, programs are continued outside. Through
constant motivation, facilitation, monitoring and therapy, they meet
the challenges of reintegrating back into their family, school or work
and society. They will "graduate" upon the fulfillment of all the

Mr. Belmonte said Phoenix's rehabilitation program is putting a heavy
stress on continuity. "When you talk of rehabilitation, people have
the misconception that it is done in the center. But in reality they
are just treating the person in the center. Actual rehabilitation is
done outside, when you start to be integrated in the outside world."

"Recovery is an everyday struggle," Mr. Belmonte said, admitting that
the first three years of recovery is the most difficult stage as it
requires a strong support system to help the person get out of the

Is there a possibility for relapse? "Yes, it's easy. There are many
sources of drugs around and taking drugs is second nature," Mr.
Belmonte said.

On helping a dependent recover, Mr. Termulo said this gives more than
satisfaction to Rising Phoenix and its founders and staff.
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