President George Vella said that a person can never overcome addiction alone, but it must be a collective effort. During a graduation ceremony at the Komunità Santa Marija in Ħal Farruġ, the President presented a memento to five residents who have successfully completed the drug rehabilitation programme with the help of the staff and professionals. He described the ceremony as a celebration of a new beginning, and above all a celebration of the courage and strength they have gained in recent months. The President told them that they have an important role in society and that they should not let anyone despise them or what they have achieved in recent months to overcome their addiction.
In his speech, the President remarked that addiction is not the folly of a prodigal person, or the consequence of a lazy life, but can develop due to several factors such as past traumas, present abuses and a sense of ‘isolation that increasingly pushes the person away from the family and social nucleus.’ He added that this perspective not only gives new significance to the challenges faced by people battling addiction but is also a reflection of a complex social reality. He said that it is easy to label people and keep identifying them that way. Unfortunately, we still hear derogatory and hurtful comments.
The President referred to a conference organised by the OASI Foundation on addiction and work which showed that training and decent work are important tools for a person to develop and be able to live an independent life. He stressed that people battling addiction are still people, not numbers. President Vella reiterated that as a society we must show empathy and ensure that the present systems provide the right opportunities for people to develop their skills while rediscovering personal talents and personal love towards a serene and productive life.
President Vella concluded his speech by inviting the residents who have successfully completed the rehabilitation programme to participate and be active in social and philanthropic life. “You must now show the way forward to others,” the President urged them.