12 steps coming to Samoa

A drug and alcohol treatment programme is set to arrive in Samoa thanks to New Zealand government funding.

The Salvation Army was awarded a fund to set up their 12 step programme in conjunction with local partners.

The funding is from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Partnerships Fund, which supports New Zealand organisations to partner with locals to meet challenges across the Pacific.

Already in Samoa and preparing to set up the programme is Lieutenant Colonel Rod Carey.

The Salvation Army will partner with the Samoan Drug Court in order to help people escape the life cycle of drug related crimes, said Carey.

Punitive sentences like prison time or heavy fines don’t address the causes of their offending like addiction. 

“Their offending is either under the influence of alcohol and drugs or driven by the need to get money for alcohol and drugs,” said Carey.

“So this programme hopefully deals with the issue rather than people going in and out of prison.”

Samoa has had a Drug Court for two years and is based on the system in Auckland.

“Appearances before the drug Courts defer sentencing in order to refer offenders to treatment programmes in order to address the root causes of their offending,” says Carey.

“Alcohol and drugs are increasing problems in Samoa, where a lot of criminal activities are fuelled by alcohol or drug use,” he said.

The 12 step treatment programme will be tailored to a Fa’a Samoa style, and is both an individual and group programme. 

“We’ll be working closely with their families, their support networks, the villages, church and the people in their lives that can help them overcome their addiction,” said Carey.

“We will deal with issues of relationships, gender equality, anger management, imbalance of power in relationships for female partners.”

“We’re a Christian church and social service provider and so part of the programme will have a spiritual component to it.”

Carey says one of the first steps in the programme is learning about a power greater than yourself that can help, which is very in line with Samoan Christian values.

The Salvation Army will also partner with Goshen Trust Mental Health Services, a mental health care provider in Samoa to support and develop them further.

“Often there is a strong link between alcohol and drug issues and mental health problems,” Carey said.

“If we have patients that show symptoms of mental health problems we will refer them to Goshen, and if they have clients who appear to them have alcohol related issues they can refer them to us.”

Carey says the programme is also hoping to address the issue of violence towards women and children, which is exacerbated by alcohol and drug use. 

“We are in discussions with Samoa Victims Support Group who do a lot of good work in the area of reducing violence towards women and children.”

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