Going cold turkey on a huge boat in Barbados sounds infinitely better than doing it at home, doesn't it?
When you think of government-sponsored rehab, you probably think of getting cold sweats in a shitty, damp little room. You probably don't think about white sand, clear seas and sunny weather.
Young offenders and drug addicts in Denmark are being absolutely treated in their quest to kick the habit and sent on year-long cruises around the Carribean in an attempt by the goverment to rehabilitate the country's disaffected youth. Local councils have spent nearly £70,000 per addict sending them around the islands getting clean, according to Danish paper Metroxpress.
One 22 year-old offender called Christian told the paper: "I climbed volcanoes twice, went jet-skiing many times, and made excursions into the jungle, although I didn’t manage to completely finish my diving certificate”. The programme puts two or three youths on a boat with a captain and a teacher, where they're taught various skills and finish the course with an exam. Sounds sweet.
However, Christian seems unconvinced by the rehabilitatory effects of the cruise, saying that he was able to find weed very easily in the area, telling Metroxpress: "The Caribbean is probably the world’s marijuana capital. It’s growing everywhere and even the police smoke it in a lot of places down there, so it’s just a matter of finding someone on the streets with a joint and then buying some."
Flemming Olsen is the director of family affairs at Freferikssund Council, a governing body that put twelve youths on the programme. He doesn't regret sending them. “The Caribbean might sound like an exotic place to go, but it’s important to stress that we are in no way talking about a holiday," he said. "We are doing this so that they can get away from an environment of drug abuse. They are maybe caught up in crime, such as drug-dealing and theft".
Ole Jacobssen is the chief executive of Freferikssund Council. He told The Telegraph that it definitely wasn't a waste of Government money. "If you're told a story that young guys and girls are being sent out on a holiday on a yacht, I can totally understand that doesn’t sound OK," he said. "But that isn't what's happening. It’s definitely not a holiday, there’s a very strict programme there."
He also said that if the program was effective it would save money as it would be more expensive to send them to prison over their lifetime. Denmark seems to prefer to rehabilitate rather than ostracise or demonise. Last year, Danish drug reform campaigner Michael Lodberg Olsen launched ILLEGAL! in Denmark, a magazine that helps drug addicts find money. The magazine is now also being sold in Shoreditch – check it out here.