Phoenix Recovery Project gets first female CEO
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Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix Recovery Programme, Samantha Young displays a copy of the National Drug Strategic Master Plan in which she says, ’Phoenix’ is included for subvention
Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix Recovery Programme, Samantha Young displays a copy of the National Drug Strategic Master Plan in which she says, ’Phoenix’ is included for subvention

SAMANTHA Young, Co-Founder and wife of the late Founder/Director of Phoenix (Drug) Recovery Project, Clarence Lexter Young, has been named the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the facility, following his demise on October 24, last year.

This move, honoured and implemented by the Board of Directors is in keeping with the specific request of her husband, prior to his passing. He died at age 58, after significantly impacting the lives of persons who were virtually on the brink of disaster, and led them to lives of hope and normalcy.

One of the pieces of garments Clarence Young wore as a substance abuser in the early 90s

Phoenix Recovery Project which threw its doors open to the public in the year 2000, targeting only male clients has grown by leaps and bounds and by 2008 had taken in the first batch of female substance abusers.

Today, four months following her husband’s passing, the programme has much to celebrate: First, the celebration of the first-ever female as Chief Executive Officer of a Drug Recovery Programme in Guyana, who also spent18 years as Co-Founder of the entity.

As with any other service being introduced for the first time, the new CEO said that there are both good and tough times, but, defying the odds and working resolutely toward the continued success of the organisation, she is of the firm conviction that the facility will not be interred with his bones, but, under her tutelage and with the help of committed staff and a dynamic Board of Directors, will continue to grow from strength to strength.
The facility’s Mission Statement is: “Encouraging change in People with Substance Abuse problems … One person at a time, to lend support to those persons in attaining improved health and social functioning.”

The buildings currently housing Phoenix Recovery Programme

“The Phoenix Recovery Programme attempts to restructure the client’s life by healing and reawakening the spiritual physical, mental and social areas that have been severely affected by the use and abuse of psychotropic substances,” Young said.
The objective of the programme is for the substance-abuser to go through therapy and ultimately be set free from the shackles of drug addiction and/or alcoholism.

But the decision to join the programme should always be a personal one. The user should experience a burning desire to become rehabilitated. It should by no means be a decision that is foisted upon him/her by family members or friends. While others reserve the right to introduce them to the concept of the programme, it should not be thrust upon them or be against their wishes. Albeit, once the substance abuser agrees and starts the programme, it is expected that they (family members) give them as much support as possible.

Phoenix Recovery Project, now located in the community of Mon Repos on the East Coast of Demerara, opened its doors to substance abusers earnestly desiring to be set free from the bondage of substance abuse, and re-integrated into society and living positive lives once more.

Reflecting on the 10 years since the programme incorporated women into the Phoenix Recovery Programme, Young sees it as a decade of amazing progress and expressed gratitude to the Catholic Relief Services in collaboration with the US Department of State, which provided funding for them to jump-start the female recovery programme.

In fact, she still looks back on the initiative 10 years ago with deep emotions, since the main reason why she influenced her husband to start up the business of counselling, was that her sister was a substance abuser and needed help. And so she (Samantha) worked tirelessly towards this end. But alas, just one month before the launch of the female programme, her sister passed away and never had a chance to start the programme. “The drive I had to push the programme was mainly because of experiencing first-hand how drugs impact substance abusers,” she said.

The facility has a live-in capacity for six women and always extends a warm welcome and an attitude of love to persons requiring the service. With a capacity for 10 women at a time, some 30 women have already passed through the programme. Currently, there are four women in treatment, one having just completed and returned home.
To date, some 23-25 women have benefitted from treatment and therapy. But what brings a greater degree of satisfaction is when the women can go through the programme and come out ‘clean’ (without relapse).

Many of them have been able to access jobs in security firms and other places. Others still have been employed by Phoenix and work with the programme.
The programme usually runs for six to 18 months and is comprised of three phases: Phase One or In-House where clients are required to live-in at the Centre for six to 12 months to undergo Primary Care. Phase 2: The After- Care or Half- Way Treatment, followed by the final Phase – the Follow-Up which also runs for six months.

The project has been doing well, Young says, and they have come to be like family. To date, more than 100 clients have passed through the institution, with an 80 to 82 percent success rate and about 18 per cent having gone into relapse (meaning that they fall back on substance abuse) or quit the programme.

Even though recognising that the ‘recovery process’ is for life, the CEO said it is always a painful thing when clients fall into a state of relapse, and so great emphasis is placed on strengthening their physical, spiritual, mental and emotional capacities.
The compact programme includes workshops on a wide range of topics, including Self-esteem, building relationships, narcotics anonymous, Anger Management, Nutrition and the Medical aspects of addiction, smoking cessation and remedial education.

Summing up, she gratefully acknowledged, “By the grace of God, we are surviving, and offering a well-rounded programme, even though we are not getting a subvention.”
Young said that in the face of not receiving a subvention, expenses are nevertheless mounting. They are however continuing to pray that this situation is addressed since in the National Drug Strategic Master Plan (2016-2020) Phoenix was included for Subvention. But to date, nothing has been received,

“My husband had earnestly looked forward to that day, but he breathed his last breath before that dream could be realised,” she said dolefully.

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