This profile was prepared when Martina Teminova-Richterova was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Martina Teminova-Richterova offers a form of psychologically oriented treatment for drug addicts that motivates them to take charge of their own recovery and reduces the likelihood of relapse after treatment. Her center combines the features of drop-in clinics, which have not yet become part of the social services for addicts in the Czech Republic, and residential treatment on a former farm that has been transformed into a treatment community. Martina's program is the first of its kind in the Republic; her approach contrasts in several respects to that of the state, which in its role of health care provider establishes the policy for addiction treatment. The state-and society in general-views drug addicts as deviants and socially undesirable; the only treatment available through public health services is enforced abstinence for a prescribed period of time in an institution. Martina and her colleagues, on the other hand, address the underlying dynamics of dependency through therapy that is conducted in an atmosphere of mutual respect; furthermore, she acknowledges that each patient is different and will move down the path to recovery at a different pace. In the conventional treatment model, the addict plays a passive role, which is transformed in Martina's program. Within a structure that resembles a caring family, professional and peer counselors help the addicts to assume personal responsibility, in incremental steps, for their recovery and reentry into society. Her vision of overcoming dependency within a supportive community echoes the themes of civil society building throughout the Czech Republic.