Increase in cocaine abuse exceeded that of heroin in 2018 – OASI
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The 28th anniversary of the OASI Foundation and its work in Maltese Society was commemorated this Sunday during a special event which included a Mass celebrated by Fr. Joseph Bajada.
Mr. Noel Xerri, Chief Executive, in the opening speech,, mentioned that throughout the last year OASI faced various challenges, but each challenge proved to be a learning experience for the organisation.
“OASI services dealt with over 400 persons of which 248 individual cases sought our Therapy and Rehabilitation services.” The Foundation said that this year also saw a change in the kinds of primary drug being mainly abused by the beneficiaries on their first contact with us. The increase in cocaine abuse exceeded that of heroin abuse. There was also an increase in the number of persons requiring professional help to deal with cannabis addiction.”
He explained that the Foundation’s energy was addressed to 3 main areas: 2018 saw a main shift in the way the organisation looked towards itself. Efforts by all the organisation’s components were merged towards the oneness of the organisation. This also brought with it a process of re-organisation which will continue to develop and evolve in the coming years, he said.
Mr Xerri added that there was large emphasis on education and social awareness on the recreational drugs associated problems. Activities which prevented individuals from reverting to substance use as a means of recreation were organised. “There are several persons who feel that the use of drugs for recreational purposes does not create any difficulty or poses no harm. This idea in itself is very harmful,” he said.
He stressed for collaboration and cooperation by and from all who are able to support. He also stated that since the law gives direction to society, it should be based on scientific foundations and society’s long term common good.Member of the Board of Directors Mr. John Magro, on their behalf, publicly recognised the work done so far by Fr. Emanuel Cordina. He also thanked Mr. Xerri and his team, together with those entities and benefactors which constantly supports the Foundation’s mission.
Mr. Magro added that after 28 years, people are still looking for the OASI Services, which thus means that the Foundation has its battle against addiction in the ongoing process.
He explained that last week, OASI organised its National Conference, and President Dr. George Vella, was present for all the conference and also delivered a very positive message, which the OASI Board of Directors agrees with and fully supports.
John Magro stressed that “stake holders must take into consideration professional advice and feedback, before moving forward regarding Legalisation of Cannabis for recreational purposes.”
He presented the OASI Awards to Mr Ferdinand Fenech, Mrs. Marisa Warwick and Mrs. Marisa Scicluna as recognition for their dedication and hard work during the years.
Mr. Ferdinand Fenech is a benefactor who has for years supported OASI Foundation, in every way possible. He has always believed in OASI and its social mission.
Mrs. Marisa Warwick has been a volunteer with OASI Foundation for the last three years. Mrs. Warwick on a regular basis organises creativity sessions with the beneficiaries who are doing the residential program, with the aim of helping them develop their creative skills. Apart from this, Ms. Warwick is also involved in fundraising and educational campaigns organised by the core group of the OASI volunteers.
Ms. Marisa Scicluna is the leader of the volunteers’ group and has been in this position for the past two years. Ms. Scicluna has been an active volunteer with the foundation since 1997.
Dr. Chris Said, Opposition spokesperson for Gozo Affairs, also thanked the OASI Board of Directors, staff and volunteers for their motivation towards the Foundation’s Mission. Reference was also made to the OASI National Conference
He emphasised on the positive message given by President Dr. George Vella, towards being careful about the way forward in legalising Cannabis for recreational purposes.
Minister for Gozo Dr. Justyne Caruana also attended at a later stage of the ceremony due to other commitments.