MOST people know that a bridge connects one point to the other, allowing people or vehicles to cross over.

Bridges of Hope Therapeutic Community is a metaphorical link from a point of a drug confused life to a drug-free one.

Recovering one’s life is the premise and promise of Bridges of Hope in Ibabao, Mandaue City, that is affiliated with Bridges of Hope in Metro Manila.

What it offers is a one-year program consisting of what one may call “seven bridges” that lead to the recovery of an addict’s life: withdrawal, which is a process with proper nutritional care; detoxification to remove the drug residues from the body; learning improvement, which is actually relearning values and improving comprehension; communication and confrontation, which try to make the resident (that’s how they are called, not addicts) open to others and accept criticism as well as to react in a positive manner; the Ups and Downs course, which is the bridge that looks into the resident’s feeling and influences to ensure that the positive gains of the program will be retained; the personality and integrity course to help the resident achieve full recovery; and last, the bridge of hope changing conditions of life course that aims to improve the resident’s quality of family life.

In this facility, a guard stays with the residents in the room at bedtime while another guard is outside in the hall and a third guard is at the entry hall to ensure that the residents will not be able to leave the premises.

All guards are unarmed and are trained to deal with a resident who may become violent. The guards are not allowed to speak with the resident and vice-versa to avoid familiarity, and the guards and other personnel of the place also get to have regular drug tests. The guards are called kuya (older brother) and each resident goes not by his own name but by a name given him by the facility to ensure anonymity.

According to Raymond Basto, executive director, from waking to sleeping, the residents’ day is filled with activities with time for personal hygiene, meals, exercise, Bible study, therapy sessions, counseling sessions whether individual, small or big group, or all. Each resident, after being assessed if fit to be in the facility (as in communicable disease free) is given some kind of responsibility for his own care and for the whole community. Rewards for good behavior can be in the form of board games or in film showings. Regular medical attention is also part of the program and a nurse is in the facility 24/7.

The average treatment is one year, though a few may be able to go back to society after 10 months or so—but these are the exceptions. And the process of going back to family is gradual.

The center has counselors, psychiatrists, psychotherapists to help program director Edu Morales assess when a resident is ready to face his family, and eventually to get back to society.

For those who are back in society, aftercare is provided by the center, including welcoming them for a day or two if the “alumnus” requires it. If they need a longer time, they will be welcomed back as residents, this time not for a year and at a greatly reduced cost.

Bridges of Hope Cebu’s marketing director is Chemin Teves while its administrative director is Paul Yu. The team: Basto, Teves, Yu and Morales, believe there’s hope for recovery for drug, alcohol or behavioral addictions.

Bridges of Hope Therapeutic Community is there to ensure that recovery.