Raquel da Silva Barros
This profile was prepared when Raquel da Silva Barros was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in .
The New Idea
Existing therapeutic communities don't serve young, chemically dependent mothers, who are a key target population in Brazil where increasing numbers of minors are using drugs and having children. Treating chemically dependent women in isolation from their children addresses only their dependency issues, yet their ability to reenter society depends on their capacity to form healthy relationships and hold a job. Raquel is taking advantage of a window of opportunity: her clients' average age is eighteen, which implies that they have been using drugs for a relatively short time. Since the client's child is usually less than one year old, combining drug treatment with parenting skills prevents any incipient child abuse.A mother allowed to keep her child with her during treatment is already one step closer to full recovery. Therapy, job training, education, and co-responsibility all make up parts of Raquel's holistic model, which prevents relapses and offers a genuine exit from a life clouded by chemical dependency. Capable, chemical-free mothers are more likely to raise healthy children, thus ending the vicious cycle of psycho-social problems that are often passed from one generation to the next.