Open letter to the minister
Dear Minister Numanović and Councillor Kojičić,
I am contacting you in the name of the NGO Preporod, and it is basic manners at the outset to present ourselves to you. We have existed for nearly eight years, and we are the initiators of extra-institutional treatment of addiction in Montenegro. We have particularly developed services of support for addicts and their families. Using some of these services, many scores of men and women from all over Montenegro are now in stable abstinence. Because of our activities, we are on the list of partners and co-workers of umbrella world institutions which treat the problem of addiction.
The reason for contacting you, for whom the fight for human rights is an essential part of your work, is our attempt to turn your attention to the unjust leaving addicts and their families off the list of the discriminated and those whose human rights are threatened.
Recently we have been seeing in the media that there was again a round-table discussion on this subject, at which we did not notice anyone who could specifically represent the category of addicts and their families, and thought that this was the moment to contact you.
Guided on one hand by the right of free expression of opinion, and on the other by the obligation as part of the civil sector to point out any possible mistakes/problems/shortcomings in the work and functioning of state institutions, we wish to turn your attention to the relationship of the Council for the Prevention of Discrimination towards individuals with the problem of addiction. However much we are convinced that it is morbid to measure who is worse off, we believe that to individuals with disabilities, the LGBT population, displaced persons, members of the RAE population, women victims of violence, as the most frequently mentioned discriminated categories, one more category just as discriminated - addicts and their families - should be added.
Just to be clear, we do not have any pretensions to classify people in this category, because this very act is a type of discrimination whereby one group is placed in a privileged position compared to others, but it is also ethically unjustified and causes negative consequences, but that issue is not the subject we want to deal with here. The issue is to direct the suggestion that if we/you are already concerned about certain categories which we consider the most attacked in realising their rights and needs, and are naming those groups of people, the very least we can do is to make other categories discriminated against, in this case addicts and their families.
This group is discriminated against on many levels.
Namely, if we start with what the role and responsibility of the state/society are, and that is the enabling of its citizens to enjoy better conditions for living, we will see a society which is not in a state, first of all, to prevent the appearance of the illness of addiction, nor even to act to cure it because the opportunity to cure everyone does not exist due to the restricted capacity and financial state of the addicts themselves, insufficient territorial reach, etc. This carries a double “sting” with it, because the right to treatment for all is restricted in the same way - equality of all in realising their needs.
Furthermore, when that small number of addicts manage to be cured, the problems they face are many, starting with the problem of getting employment, the lack of acceptance by social environment which itself frustrates this period of resocialisation and readapting to the environment. The families themselves often bear a brutal isolation because of the addiction of one of their family members. All these mentioned things are the task of a society which should be promoting acceptance, equality, healthy lifestyles..., breaking down prejudices which are characteristic of our borders, and no stranger to any country in development.
Apart form this, the number of discriminated is increasing to the extent that we know that the illness of addiction is not the illness just of the individual, but also of his environment, especially his family, and in the end, of the whole society.
At the end of the day, why is it significant to include or at least turn one's attention to, and think about individuals afflicted with some type of addiction? It is quite important that individuals and institutions that take care of prevention of discrimination, as well as other types of protection, are aware of their influence over changing the “awareness” of citizens and the development of their feeling for particular problems which they do not significantly come into contact with or which they simply do not deal with, and with their behaviour, or rather lack of activity, contribute to threatening those who carry this problem with them. Just emphasising their problems brings them out into the open in the eyes of the population, brings the problem out from under the carpet and offers a basis for discussion and finding a solution to their problems. Just the enormous, catastrophic consequences which addicts bear, makes presenting this problem as a social problem essential.
Finally, we hope that there will be more understanding about this problem in your continued work in this function, because if you do not have any sensibility for them, there will be no improvement at all. It is important to know that with coordinated action we can achieve much, each doing everything in his power for his part.
We are also aware of the possibility that not enough information has been given to you in this one email, therefore to the extent that you would consider it valuable, we are ready to familiarise you in more detail with the situation and with everything that Preporod has done so far in connection with the issue of addiction.
We are not familiar with the process of electing members of the Council, nor of the criteria for selecting the categories that the council mainly deals with. We do not need any membership to make every attempt to bolster the quality of life of the categories which are our target group, but if you wish to include, in any way, in the coming period in the work of the council any individuals or institutions that might represent the rights of addicts and their families, we would be gratified.
Also, it would be our pleasure to have you visit us, but since we presume that you do not have time, it would be no problem at all for us to come to you and familiarise you with the details necessary to gain a complete picture about the problems which individuals that suffer the consequences of psychoactive substance abuse encounter.
Until the next opportunity, cordial greetings from Preporod,