Hangovers are History! – Forward together for an accessible drug consultation

The Hungarian population ranks high in terms of alcohol consumption, and alcohol abuse very frequently results in alcoholism. Alcohol related conditions both physical and mental can be accurately diagnosed and treated, but timely prevention and education may have an even more important role in fighting the epidemic. In this country the addiction problems of handicapped people is a taboo subject, yet this demographic group is just as affected by addiction as any other.

Drog Stop Budapest Association has been active in drug prevention for nearly 20 years. Using their expertise, and with help from Norwegian Grants, the drug prevention project “Nem téma?” commenced with a series of 9 workshop sessions focusing on sharing knowledge, exploring opportunities of early prevention based on mental hygiene and support. The sessions feature talks from experts and leave room for dialogue, and use input from people concerned in professional work. Plans are to use the resulting discourse to compile a practical website as well as a professional recommendation, which would be made accessible to people suffering drug addiction, their families and loved ones as well as experts and volunteers.

The third workshop is themed around alcohol abuse. Interactive discussion is aimed at helping disability specialists approach the issue of alcohol abuse among their clients and their relations, and to develop an open discussion on responsible alcohol consumption in the same milieu.

An accessible community space hosted disabled persons, NGO associates, students, volunteers, associates of Drog Stop Budapest Association and disability specialists gathered for an afternoon to share knowledge and experience.

The workshop commenced with an addictology overview, Drog Stop Budapest associate Éva Bognár presented the Hungarian alcohol abuse consultation care network, therapeutic methods and self-helf groups. Next, visually impaired social care student and recovered victim Róbert Végh presented his personal experience, with profound effect on all present. Personal stories can help us identify and access the roots of the problem, though a single perspective is not sufficient in itself: the issue needs to be examined in detail as well as depth.

Feelings of self-pity, anxiety and insecurity may lead disabled people into alcohol abuse and addiction. In order to fully recover, the acknowledgment of the addiction and asking for help are the first necessary steps. Anonymous support communities may provide a solution, where affected people may feel secure.

During the afternoon's informal discussion several dilemmas and taboos were addressed, including whether or not child addictology is a necessary development (with a teen rehab facility already underway) and the importance of highlighting communication difficulties in treating disabled peoples' alcohol conditions (required interpreting and slower progress). Another matter to discuss was how family and loved ones relate to addiction conditions of disabled persons, and where they can turn in a crisis. Participants agreed that while specialists are certainly overburdened, but even the fact that the discussion of this issue is moving forward counts for serious progress.

Participants also formulated recommendations and strategy in a group effort.  Resolution, openness and tolerance are prerequisite to effective and timely assistance. It is important to open up new channels for preventive presentation – involving outside experts – in disabled persons' own environment. Existing programs should be adapted to the needs of people living with disability, an enormous challenge which will however guarantee long term progress. It is this path that the “Nem téma?”project for accessible drug prevention has taken steps along, opening up to an unaddressed community problem and aiming to study the relation of disability and addiction.

Further good practices and future plans were discussed. Appropriate prevention and orientation is necessary, which requires continuity, because experience shows that one-off prevention presentations are inefficient. The fundamental pillar is working together, by setting up a working group where disability and drug prevention specialists can work together and mesh, becoming familiar with their mutual needs and capacities. By involving students and teachers in a structure of mutual support, social workers, psychologists, special education teachers can work together in successful drug prevention.

After the workshop, Tánceánia Dance Ensemble took to the Central Passage stage. Their group is over a decade old and integrates dancers with and without disabilities in a shared artistic space, focusing their diversity and values for a more open society.

Here you can see a video Drug Stop Budapest Association promoting an inclusive party:


Photography by Dávid Bereczki