Defined Terms

News Corp article Italian drug users rehabilitation program in Italy sets tone for new ‘life-changing’ centres in Australia (6 Mar '15) describes probably the most successful and encouraging drug rehabilitation model any where in the world, which has been propagated to two Australian towns, albeit still in its infancy.

San Patrignano, located in North Italy, is a 40 years' strong 'community for life' that welcomes those suffering from drug addiction and marginalization and helps them to find their way thanks to a rehabilitation programme that is based on love, self-respect and teaching useful employment skills.

San Pat, as most residents like to call it, began in 1979 when a local businessman wanted to do something for the youth of nearby Rimini and took a couple off the street to work on his small single shed cooperative farm.  Soon the number grew to five disaffected youth mostly drug addicts, then 25, then 50. Now more than 1,300 sit down for lunch each day in the dining hall of what is effectively a fully fledged self-sustaining township.

Unlike other rehab centres, San Pat does not treat users with more drugs or methadone over a few months. But rather removes them from society for between three and four years where for the first year they have no direct contact with the outside world, except through old fashioned letter writing.  They can leave but if they do they are not allowed to come back.  All are substance abusers and many are on house arrest, probation or alternative sentencing so incentive to stay is strong.

San Pat offers 52 skilled training sectors whether it’s in the -

*        120 hectare vineyard that produces 500,000 litres of award winning wine each year;

*        dairy shed that produces 4,000 litres a day that then gets used to make a range of cheeses at its factory; or

*        pigs that get used to make salamis now sold in shops across Italy.

There is also an indoor and an outdoor international championship equestrian arena and stables that has produced an Olympic gold medal horse, its pedigree puppy breeding program, commercial printers, laundry, graphic artistry, plumbing training, furniture making workshops, TV production studio and even a world-class 45-bed hospital that in the 1980s was a leading institution in the study of Aids and whose chief medical officer today Doctor Antonio Boschini was himself a resident on the rehab program 30 years ago.

San Pat is recognised now as the world’s most successful rehabilitation centre with a 75 per cent success rate.  No other rehab place in the world comes close.

San Pat is a commitment towards building a better society, thanks to numerous projects designed to prevent drug abuse. In its search for the common good, San Patrignano is open towards the outside world with specific activities in schools, international study events, special wide-ranging programmes and constantly battles against addiction.

Those on the program at San Patrignano come from all over the world, including Australia.  Now the extraordinary model is being exported elsewhere, including Australia with one in Western Australia and another in Victoria.  The one in WA is 30km inland from Geraldton and the one farmhouse and guest cottage property will from this month begin to grow.

Modelled on San Patrignano ... Residents pictured at the drug rehab centre, Hope Springs in Geralton, Western Australia. Picture: Supplied

Modelled on San Patrignano ... Residents pictured at the drug rehab centre, Hope Springs in Geralton, Western Australia.

Monica Luppi, who had been involved with the program in Italy and was now living in Australia, said “Hope Springs”, named after an all year round spring on the property, would start small, much the same as when San Pat began.

San Patrignano: A Model Restorative Community for People with Addiction Problems