What is Agia Skepi Therapeutic Community?
Agia Skepi is a non-profit rehabilitation program for persons struggling with long-term substance abuse. It helps users address their dependence and provides them with the necessary skill-set for social reintegration. It also offers offers mobilisation and treatment services, as well as counselling and support to the families of users.
Who can get help? What are the criteria for admission?
The programme is aimed at persons with a long-term problem of substance abuse, regardless of national origin, sex, pregnancy status or gender identity. Those interested to join must have completed physical detoxification, and have adequate command of the Greek language (in which the program is conducted) so that the treatment can be beneficial.
Do you offer physical detoxification? How is this accomplished?
No. Applicants must be physically detoxified before joining the program. There are two option to achieve this:
At Anosi, Limassol, the only state detoxification centre.
Users can gradually reduce their intake until full abstention and deal with the deprivation symptoms at home, with or without the help of a psychiatrist. During this process, they can get support from the Agia Skepi counselling station mobilisation program, which takes 2-3 week .
Is there someone I can talk to about the program?
Contact the Counselling Centre at 22347720, any time between 9:00 and 17:00. We will be happy to provide all the information you need.
What should I do if I suspect that someone I know is abusing substances?
Contact the Counselling Centre at 22347720. You will be informed regarding drug use and its symptoms, how to approach the affected person and how to get them in contact with the counselling centre.
How long is the stay in the residential (closed) part of the program?
Nine to twelve months, but it depends on each person. The programme aims to return functional individuals with the fewest chances of relapse. During their stay in the community, the members progress through 3 stages, each subject to an evaluation.
Do the members ever leave the community while in the programme?
In the first phase (approx. 4 months), community members have no contact with the outside world - except supervised excursions or organised leisure activities.
During the second phase (approx. 6 months) the programmed outings begin with a hierarchically elder chaperon.
In the third phase, members have extensive contacts with the outside, assume responsible roles in out-of-community activities, manage money, and carry out jobs like shopping for the community.
Are members allowed to leave the program or are they forcefully detained?
People who come for help are free to leave at any time. Besides, forceful treatment of this type is not effective.
Don’t patients still desire drugs during their stay?
After physical detoxification a patient can think of using up to 70 times a day. That is one of the reasons that the program keeps community members constantly busy. Over time the desire to use decreases.
What is a typical day like?
Members are supervised on a 24-hour basis and follow a structured daily schedule. A typical working day includes:
· Group therapy
· Work (in the kitchen, the bakery, the farms, packaging plant, and cleaning)
· Leisure (theatre, knitting, gym, footstall, music) and rest.
Is there any violence within Agia Skepi?
No. All forms of violence (physical, emotional, or sexual) are explicitly forbidden and result in the immediate termination of collaboration of the offender with the program.
What is the relation between Agia Skepi and the church?
Agia Skepi Therapeutic Community was founded by the Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol, then abbot of the monastery of Machairas, and is situated on land granted by the monastery.
Once a week, community members can visit church, and talk to a priest that visits the community. The menu (formulated by a nutritionist) follows the Orthodox fasting program. Participation in religious activities is optional.
Does the staff consist of priests? What qualifications do the therapists have?
For the operation of the program and for other work in the community, specialised personnel, psychologists and social workers, as well as graduates of the program are employed.
How does Agia Skepi differ from other treatment centres?
Agia Skepi is the only internal residence program that applies the international model of therapeutic communities in Cyprus, and the only program in Cyprus approved by the European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).
Which treatment techniques are used?
The programs apply the model of therapeutic communities, cognitive-behavioural therapy technique and other techniques, as necessary.
Are meals included?
Yes. Members participate in preparing nutritious meals as part of the healing process, and in cleaning the kitchen.
Why are the programs for men and women separate?
Men and women go through different experiences during substance abuse, and consequently their therapeutic needs are also different. It takes time away from the other sex for wounds to heal. Once ready to develop healthy relationships during the reintegration phase, men and women are invited to co-operate in the treatment .
Can the children or parents of members visit or stay in the community overnight?
Children can visit their parents in the program - maintaining their relationship is desirable. Mothers can have small children with them in the community. Children go to school or kindergarten during the day and sleep in specially designed rooms within the community.
In the first phase of the program community members have no contact with the outside world. Phone communication with drug-free first-degree relatives, can take place after three months. Family meetings are held usually after 6 months, as part of the treatment. Visits are not allowed and there are no facilities for overnight stay in the community.