Physical punishment and food rationing, sexual segregation and repression, religious indoctrination interfering with medical care. This is the routine in many institutions that welcome drug addicts, and receive public money. These and other practices, in the so-called therapeutic communities, are condemned by specialists and by the Federal Council of Psychology..
On Friday, the end of last month, Fantástico was in an institution that shelters drug addicts near the capital of Bahia.
“Hair wants rapá. Go look for a donkey. You were born male, boy”, says federal deputy pastor Sargento Isidorio, from Avante, the most voted in the last elections in Bahia.
He claims that transgender people are devilish: “You let the Devil fool you. You let the doctor cut off your couch leg. She just thinks she has bile. The Devil tells a man that he can be a woman, then he gets all dressed up, puts on silicone”.
With a machete in hand, he mocks medicine: “My psychiatrist has arrived. Your psychiatrist has arrived”.
During two months of investigation, the Fantastic found this and other examples of disregard for science in the treatment of drug addicts in institutions that receive public money. The reporters have been to therapeutic communities that say they have psychiatrists, psychologists and nurses in their care for patients.
But, in an establishment in the interior of Minas Gerais, chemical dependence can be explained as follows: “It could be a curse. Generally, boys who come from abroad have something of a curse or family, hereditary, from father to son, from grandparents, from the tenth generation.”.
In the same institution, inmates said they take care of the medication of other inmates.
“Any medication, especially the best-known black stripes, has the risk of excessive sedation, respiratory depression, even coma and death”, highlights Débora Gomes Medeiros, psychiatrist and collective health researcher – Unicamp.
In saviormonitors and former inmates talk about a routine of punishment: “Three days of rice”.
O Fantastic caught humiliation in these places and also repression of the sexual orientation of drug addicts. This type of conduct in the reception of chemical dependents is condemned by specialists and by the Public Ministry, including complaints of human rights violations.
The so-called therapeutic communities receive alcohol and drug addicts who have to be hospitalized of their own free will. In general, they are private, but not-for-profit institutions. Some charge registration and monthly fees, others offer free places, financed with public money or donations. Communities have existed in Brazil since the 1970s and have been growing a lot in the last five years..
“It is believed that today there are close to 80 thousand people sheltered, and close to 5 to 6 thousand therapeutic communities spread throughout Brazil. Some end up using the name of therapeutic community, but they are not”, says Ricardo Valente, psychologist and director of the Brazilian Federation of Therapeutic Communities.
The federation represents 300 communities. The communities investigated by the Fantastic are not affiliated.
The period of hospitalization and the reception program vary from institution to institution, but, according to scholars, they all start from the same principle.
“Brazilian therapeutic communities have the tripod ‘work, discipline and spirituality’ as an anchor for their work”, says Débora Gomes Medeiros, psychiatrist and researcher in collective health – Unicamp.
A tripod questioned by science. “Substance disorders are a multifactorial problem with biological, psychological and social determinants, with a very wide variety among cases. There is no solution that fits all cases”, says the psychiatrist.
Over the years, therapeutic communities have increasingly received public money, passed on by municipalities, states and the Union. In 2019, from the Ministry of Citizenship alone, which is responsible for the therapeutic communities program, more than BRL 81 million. Last year, the value reached BRL 134 millionan increase of 65%.
In the same period, in the SUS psychosocial care network for alcohol and drug addicts, the so-called CAPS AD, the increase was 11%.
Watch the full report in the video above, with more explanations from professionals and testimonies from patients, who tell of cases of disrespect and abusive practices.
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