These faces haven’t always been smiling. Today they rejoice in their freedom, in the full sense of the word, but this was not always the case. Alexander, Yuri and Dan have been battling drug addiction for a long time, and have been losing it for quite some time. In addition to drugs, they have been imprisoned several times. These three men were trapped in a vicious cycle of drug use and imprisonment. But today they have a different life, they are free… free from drugs, from criminal mentality and from everything that led to them in the past.
What has changed? How did they manage to overcome their addiction and remain at freedom? How is it that these faces are smiling again today?
Alexander is 37 years old. He started using drugs at the age of 11, and at 18 he was already serving his first prison sentence. Since then, his life has become a series of only these two phenomena: drug use and imprisonment. Every time Alexander was released from prison, he could not cope with his addiction, and this inevitably led to a new incarceration.
But during his last detention, he had the opportunity to undergo a rehabilitation program in prison. It was a chance to change his life and get rid of all destructive habits, and Alexander took it. After successfully completing the rehabilitation program, he was released on parole and was so grateful and inspired that he decided to help other people who are facing similar problems. Today Alexander is a social worker, he visits almost all the penitentiary institutions in Moldova in order to inform the prisoners that there is a solution and a way out of their difficult life situations. Through his example, Alexander motivates prisoners to change their lives, and supports them in every possible way in this process. In addition to his professional activities, he also improved other areas of his life. He builds relationships, participates actively in the upbringing of his children and spends his free time qualitatively.
Alexander: “It was only thanks to the therapeutic community and the people who helped us there that I was able to overcome this problem. This inspired me so much that I decided to devote my activity to helping people who are still facing these difficulties.”
Yuri went to prison at the age of 17 and has spent most of his life there afterwards. Prison and drugs took everything from him, including relationships with family and friends. In the next 17 years, Yuri was released twice, and each time he faced the same situation: loneliness, rejection, helplessness.
At the age of 34, while serving his third sentence, Yuri learned that a therapeutic community was opening in the penitentiary where he was being detained and that his friend, Alexander, was going there to undergo rehabilitation. After a while, he began to see changes in his friend. This inspired Yuri and he decided to join the community. There, for the first time in quite a while, he felt accepted and understood…he felt like in a family. After undergoing rehabilitation, he returned to freedom, but this time he was not alone, the man continued to receive support after his release. Soon afterwards, he made all the necessary documents, got a job and met his future wife. He continues to grow and develop in all areas of his life, and rejoices in his achievements and successes. Today, Yuri is a professional in his field, a loving husband and father, a free and happy person.
Yuri: “Thanks to the fact that I went through this rehabilitation, I now have what I dreamed of and even more – what I did not even imagine that I would have.”
Because of his addiction to drugs, Dan has been imprisoned more than once and in more than one country. He started using drugs at the age of 13, and what seemed from the beginning to be an interesting activity and a perfect solution to all problems, turned into a real nightmare by the age of 20 and this nightmare lasted for more than 10 years. Gradually, he lost everything: his job, friends, relationships with family, health, freedom, and in the end, the hope that he could someday return to a normal life.
Like the other two heroes, Dan was in prison when he found out about the launch of a therapeutic community. He had already undergone rehabilitation at freedom, but unsuccessfully, and he firmly decided to pass the rehabilitation program again. This time the result exceeded all his expectations. He changed his attitude towards himself and towards life, overcame drug addiction and gained a priceless life experience. After his parole, he decided to continue his education and is now studying for a master’s degree in English translation. He got a job in the field of journalism, and even decided to turn his life experience into something useful. Dan decided to write a book. By sharing his experiences and learned lessons in his book, he wants to help people in similar situations and prevent them from making costly mistakes.
Dan: “It’s absolutely incredible, but I had to go to prison in order to gain freedom. The specialists who worked with us helped me a lot, especially the volunteers who came to visit us. These are living examples that quitting drugs is possible. Now I overcame this problem as well, and so can everyone else.”
Although our heroes have different life stories, they are united by one common experience: a rehabilitation program in prison. All of them are graduates of the Therapeutic Community “Catharsis” from Penitentiary No. 9 – “Pruncul”, Republic of Moldova. The community opened its doors on July 30, 2018 for prisoners wishing to overcome chemical addiction and can hold up to 26 people. Not a single graduate of the therapeutic community has reoffended and returned to prison.
“GAINING FREEDOM IN PRISON” A FILM BY DAN ERUSEVSCHI