JEDDAH — Al-Amal Hospital is sending 25 recovering drug addicts to perform Haj this year as part of its treatment program which focuses on spiritual development.
Osama Ahmed Al-Ibrahim, Supervisor General of Al-Amal Hospital, said this is the seventh consecutive year patients are being sent on the holy pilgrimage. Patients are also sent to perform Umrah.
He said the patients were chosen after clinical evaluations and will be accompanied by a team from the hospital. “Religious counseling is part of the hospital’s treatment program. We have permanent religious counselors who have graduated from Shariah colleges.”
The Haj and Umrah program helps recovering addicts integrate better into society, especially if they can see themselves as part of a broader Muslim Ummah, said Al-Ibrahim.
Waleed, a recovering addict undergoing treatment at Al-Amal hospital, was selected to go on Haj this year. He was addicted to drugs for 27 years and was admitted to the hospital seven times.
“Despite efforts by my family to help me recover, I only decided to stop using drugs last year.”
He said his addiction took over his life completely. “I have no children because I was never married although I’m now in my forties. I could also not hold onto a job because of my addiction.”
Waleed said the turning point in his life came last year when the hospital sent him to perform Umrah. “I found peace inside me after I visited the Two Holy Mosques with the hospital group. I decided not to waste my life in addiction any longer.”
“I performed Umrah during the second month of my treatment. I then realized that I had made a big mistake in my life, which had not only affected me but also my family, which had completely lost trust in me.”
Awad Al-Noufaie, a sociologist at Al-Amal hospital, is part of the medical team that chooses patients for the Haj and Umrah program.
“We evaluate the recovered patients psychologically, physically and socially by observing them for a certain time,” said Al-Noufaie.