DARE Network (Drug and Alcohol Recovery and Education Network)

DARE (Drug & Alcohol Recovery & Education) Network is a grassroots national NGO. DARE Network provides culturally appropriate non-medical treatment & prevention education to reduce substance abuse & associated social issues within the communities of displaced ethnic people from Burma, along the Thai/Burma border. DARE Network envisions the strength of ethnic people from Burma to use the power of recovery from addiction as a non-violent means to resist oppression. A Free Mind Cannot Be Destroyed.
Dec 15, 2014

Yaba, Daba.. Don't!

Yaba Pills Credit: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)
Yaba Pills Credit: Karen Human Rights Group (KHRG)

In the most recent camp management meeting, camp leadership stressed the growing problem of youth substance abuse. One of the most concerning issues is the use of  “Yaba”, translating as “crazy medicine”, a methamphetamine pill packaged in candy like wrappers and sold openly and cheaply, especially in Karen State, attracting younger and younger children. Since the 2012 ceasefire it has been much easier to traffic drugs out of Burma and yaba has been flowing almost non-stop into Thailand villages, cities, and most worryingly for us, the refugee camps.

The pills are taken to increase energy to work and study or recreationally with friends to escape trauma, loss and boredom. Yaba is highly addictive and has severe psychological impacts, increasing with prolonged use.  Addiction to methamphetamines leads to violence, stealing and destruction of families and communities.

 Yaba, is relatively new in this area. Knowledge of its short term and long term effects, the addictive qualities and recognition of the pills is extremely low, accelerating the rates of uptake. Awareness education is needed across all 5 refugee camps and in the migrant community to instigate a reduction in uptake and stemming of use.

To tackle this DARE has begun, with the help of funding from Runwell and the Linda Quirk Foundation, to work on a new poster specifically aimed at youth yaba use. Two weeks ago we had a brainstorming session to come up with ideas for the design. Each of the staff took to big sheets of paper to draw what first came to mind when thinking about yaba.

There were central themes across all designs: loss, lack of control, sadness, death, help and hope. Our ideas will be translated into a professional design by a local artist and we hope to be printing in the early New Year.

This poster will go alongside a prevention education module as part our youth Frisbee Tournament.    

Our Ultimate Frisbee competitions are effective way to target the hard to reach teen population. These specifically educated teens, through the Frisbee Tournament, will be able to support our broader outreach and poster campaign further within the camps and migrant community.

Stay tuned for the final version of our poster! At the moment at drawings are a little indecipherable!

Thanks to all those who have supported and continue to support our project.

We are involved in the End of Year Campaign through GlobalGiving on our other project; Step Back to Burma. The yaba poster and prevention education will be a big part of that. If you are looking for a holiday season gift idea, look no further than a donation gift on that page! Link below.

You will see the link to our Facebook page below, like to receive more update photos and information! 

Many kind regards and happy holiday!

From the DARE team. 

Yaba sold in shop in Karen State. Credit: KHRG
Yaba sold in shop in Karen State. Credit: KHRG
School right next to shop that sells yaba (KHRG)
School right next to shop that sells yaba (KHRG)

Links:

Oct 21, 2014

Behind the Scenes: Global Giving

Naa Okantey
Naa Okantey

As you probably know, we are a small, tightly run ship. We are thankful for every dollar we receive, and every dollar makes a difference somewhere in the organisation. That is why, when we get help, support or even simply encouragment for free it puts a big smile on all of our faces.

In this report I want to share with you the perspective of one amazing person, Naa Okantey, who provided all of this for free and share a little of what we are working on in the head office on a daily basis. 

Naa is a Global Giving volunteer Impact Assessor. On a self-funded trip to South-East Asia, she decided to visit 5 Global Giving charities to provide support and assistance with their communications and in-house operations. DARE Network was one of those lucky organisations. Naa spent a week with us, understanding our organisation and giving us tips about how to reach more people, write better stories and generally enhance the way we communicate. Her infomation has already been useful and we are expecting even more value from the tailored report being written for us. 

We asked Naa a few questions after she had left on her impressions about volunteering and DARE's work. We hope this will give you a glimpse of what it is like on the ground here in Mae Sariang.

 

1.Why did you decide to come on this trip to help NGOs in South East Asia?

Three of my favorite things are: travelling, stories and food and in essence that is what this trip was about. I spent a week at a time with different organizations, getting to know their story and writing a report to help them get better. I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my summer to be honest. I am a huge advocate for the important role grassroots organizations play in international development and have some experience in what it looks like to run such a project. So I thought that I could help other organizations as well as learn from them. I knew I would get to meet some super cool people, be inspired and hopefully also inspire and I have not been disappointed.

2. Why do you think volunteering is important?

Put simply, I think volunteering is important because it helps someone else. There is something we can all do to make the world a better place and if we can do so freely, I am not sure why we wouldn’t. You get to share a part of your life with someone –albeit sometimes briefly- and I think that is quiet special. You don’t even have to travel for this to happen: the beauty of volunteering is that it can literally be anything! It doesn’t have to be the cliché of teaching in a school in Africa. That warm fuzzy feeling that you get from doing something for nothing is also really nice! I do think though that when you consider international volunteering, you really have to do your research because that warm fuzzy feeling is not enough, you should ask yourself: is what I am doing helpful, or is there a better way I could be supporting this organization, because ultimately it is not about you, its about them.

3. What was your impression of the DARE program? 

I love DARE! Drug and alcohol addiction is a huge problem in many places, but when used as a form of oppression of an already vulnerable people, the effects are magnified. The fact that DARE exists to tackle this issue is very exciting and I love that the techniques you use like acudetoxing and herbal remedies are native to the communities. You don’t skimp out on quality though, all of your trainers are certified accudetoxers and I thought that was very impressive, as is your success rate. You are also so keen to learn about how to improve so as far as I can see, the only way is up

4. You already knew a bit about us and what we do, did you learn anything unexpected while you were here with us?

Yeah! I discovered that a lot of the people who work for DARE are recovering addicts themselves. I was genuinely blown away by how amazing these people are. I think it makes it even more special that its some kind of domino effect because what starts as something they do for themselves, to become free of addiction slowly but surely sends ripples of change and unity across communities all over the camps.

I also loved that local people run the program and the beneficiary’s needs drive the programs and I think its amazing that you encourage these recovering addicts to train as program leaders and educators. It totally empowering for them and takes away the problem of the “western savior”.  

5. If you could have one wish for the world what would it be? As small or big as you like!

Oh my! This is a hard one. Can I say love? I saw this quote by John Green recently “I don’t know a perfect person. I only know flawed people who are still worth loving.” I know it may sound lame but for me love is a selfless thing and if we all loved selflessly, and truly embraced all that it encapsulates: forgiveness, kindness, humility, passion etc. the world would be a better place.

 

Naa, thanks again for your time and effort with us! We wish you all the best. 

Sep 17, 2014

Cross Cultural Impact of Drug Addiction

From: The Lancet
From: The Lancet

We all know that drugs and alcohol are harmful to people and families. Most people have probably experienced or seen first-hand the damage and destruction drugs and alcohol can do for the person involved and the community around them. However, what we may not know is the exact impact of each drug on a range of different internal and external factors. Today, I’ll go through some research from Professor David Nutt on the impact of drugs and alcohol in the UK. Professor Nutt has previously worked with the UK government and founded the independent drugs research charity Drugs Science. His worked has informed much public policy in the UK and globally.

Even though this study looks at UK data, the data is similar to what we find with the substance we face on the border. It highlights the universality of the problem, even in highly contextualized situations.  

Alcohol, despite being legal almost everywhere, is overall the most harmful drug to society. Abuse of alcohol is especially harmful on factors outside of the user; injury to others, family adversity and economic cost. Alcohol is more harmful by nearly 20 points (on a ranking scale out of 100) than the second and third most harmful drugs; heroin and crack cocaine. This is something that we clearly see on the border, alcohol is a strong contributor to domestic violence and family dissatisfaction.

The three most common substances abused in the camps and villages we work with are all in the top 4 most harmful overall drugs: alcohol, opium/heroin and metamphetamine or yaba (Yaba means “crazy medicine” and is a methamphetamine) (in order of harm).

While alcohol has a larger negative impact on the people around the user, heroin and methamphetamines severely damage the user. Herorin has the largest user mortality (directly or indirectly) of any drug. Methamphetamines cause significant loss of relationships, impaired mental functioning and dependence. The use of yaba in the camps has grown significantly in recent years and the high level of dependence is especially concerning for young people.

Substance addiction has mental, physical and spiritual components. You can look at these shocking figures and think how much harm is being caused by one person’s addiction.  But that outlook doesn’t address the root cause of addiction or assist that person in recovery. At DARE we focus on the drivers of addiction rather than the substance or behaviors, although those are critically important as well. The people in our camps have experienced trauma and violence at the hands of their own government. They have in many case been forced or led to drugs and alcohol directly by perpetrators of this violence, or turned to substances to ease an untold suffering.

To help, is to understand this and to free that person from the clutches of their trauma, releasing them from the hold of addiction through that process.  

Substances abuse can exaggerate the negative impact of the trauma suffered for the user and for the community around them. Helping that user move from addiction to freedom assists not only themselves, but many around them. Positive outcomes for a whole family for the price of one!

In the border area, a recent survey completed in one of the camps that DARE does not operate in, showed that drug and alcohol abuse is the top concern for camp residents. Our work is critical for the physical and mental health of the refugee and migrants on the border.

When you support addiction treatment and prevention education, such as DARE’s program you are not just helping those addicted. You are supporting whole communities to become stronger and safer and for those in the communities to prosper to their full potential.

Thank you as always for your continued support.

Check out as well photos from one of our recent Ultimate Frisbee matches on a hot and threatening rainy season day. 

Ultimate Frisbee Competition
Ultimate Frisbee Competition

Links:

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