When Dila Tezemir, a Turkish singer, saw the devastation of drug abuse in her country—addiction spiraling upward out of control and even child addiction soaring during the past decade—she decided to do something about it. She went in search of an effective program and found it with Narconon.

Official grand opening of the new Narconon Turkey centre to accommodate its expansion.

The result is Narconon Turkey, the nation’s first Narconon center that is now one year into its commitment to helping the addicted.

The challenge for Narconon Turkey is daunting as they face the need to provide drug prevention and rehabilitation in a country where from 2004 to 2012, those seeking help with drugs spiraled up from 40,000 to 227,000, according to Today’s Zaman, the Istanbul-based major news daily.

A majority of those asking for treatment are men under age 25 addicted to opiates. More than half have been through two or more treatment programs and reverted to drug use.

Letter of recognition from the government of Ankara to Narconon Turkey.

Not only are the numbers of Turkish citizens addicted to drugs or alcohol rising rapidly, but also the age of addiction is getting lower. The European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction places the cause of this with the unrelenting trafficking in heroin and cannabis flowing on the drug lanes linking Afghanistan and Europe.

The rising incidence of child addiction is a major concern of Narconon Turkey and spurs them in their drug education and prevention actions. They cite the Hurriyet Daily News report that more than 3,000 children had sought help for addiction from the health ministry, but in the whole of the country only three facilities focus on the addiction problems of children.

“I went through fifteen other rehab programmes. None of them worked. Narconon was my last programme, and now I’ve been clean for seven years. This place turned my life around.”

The Narconon Turkey staff plan to step up their drug education actions in their second year, to spread the word that effective and lasting freedom from addiction is possible, and that the best prevention is education—the help for children is to make sure they never start drugs in the first place. To this end, Narconon staff make television and radio appearances, school lectures and form alliances with local corporations.

“We want people to know that addiction is neither inherited nor an incurable disease that requires indefinite treatment, and that an addict is not an addict for life,” says Tezemir. “We are dedicated to helping thousands of our fellow citizens overcome their addiction and live bright and productive lives. We can do that with the Narconon programme.”