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Blue Cross Brazil Strengthens its Network of Self-help Groups

Blue Cross Brazil has developed a network of aftercare service providers in the field of alcohol and illicit drug dependence care across Southern Brazil. The aim of the network is to significantly reduce relapse rates among clients who have successfully completed their first therapy cycle. This important Blue Cross Brazil initiative is a response to the lack of integrated aftercare services in Southern Brazil – a gap which seriously jeopardises the success of dependence treatment. The Blue Cross Brazil self-help group (SHG) development initiative is therefore making a significant contribution to dealing with this critical service provision problem.

Country Context: Some Facts and Figures

• 11.7 million persons consume alcohol harmfully (National Survey on Alcohol and Drugs Lenad 2012)
• 6.8% of the total population is dependent on alcohol
• 2 out of 10 Brazilians have been a victim of violence in childhood
• 20% of the parents or caregivers who assaulted their children had drunk alcohol.

Project Summary

Blue Cross Brazil is providing treatment and aftercare services in the most affected three Southern states of Santa Catarina, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul. The organization collaborates with 12 affiliated treatment centers that employ the therapeutic community approach and provide stationary treatment to more than 1,500 clients per year.
In order to complement the services of these Blue Cross Centres as well as to decrease the rate of relapses among its clients, Blue Cross Brazil is building up a wide network of self-help groups for clients and their families. This is done through the active promotion of self-help among communities, churches and other institutions, the training of self-help group leaders and through close support and coaching for newly established self-help groups.

Key Achievements in 2013

• Visited 426 churches, communities and institutions in order to promote the concept of self-help.
• Completed 2,800 home visits to participants of the new self-help groups formed under this project.
• Held 5 regional meetings for self-help group leaders in order to promote networking and learning among Blue Cross volunteers.
• Organized a National Conference on Self-Help together with representatives of the Blue Cross of Germany, providing an important training opportunity to staff and volunteers.
• Published a booklet called “Reflections for Self-Help Groups”. This book develops 52 themes for self-help meetings, one for each week of the year, elaborated by collaborators and volunteers of BC Brazil. It will be an important support tool for the self-help leaders to facilitate their meetings.

“Expanding Self-Help in Southern Brazil”

Due to an increased need for support services, Blue Cross Brazil began offering self-help groups for different target groups. The team is growing a network of KIDS groups for children whose parents are drug or alcohol abusers. Additionally, specific groups have been set up for prisoners and indigenous persons on the “Nonoai” reserve in Rio Grande del Sul.

According to the coordinator of the self-help group for inmates at the correctional facility Palmeira das Missões, participation in the self-help program changes the lives of the prisoners: “The inmates told me that after participating in the self-help group meetings they felt more at ease to talk with the psychologist of the prison. They could articulate themselves better and also express their thoughts more easily.”

For more information about Blue Cross Brazil, please view our video on YouTube.

Donations to contribute towards the further development and expansion of this important aftercare initiative are very welcome!


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