Habilítate Mazatlán is not always successful in its intent to help its members stay off drugs. Crystal-meth addiction is notoriously hard to shake. Some of the group’s most caring and capable workers have slipped again into heavy drug use and have needed to go back into drug-rehab centers. Unfortunately, in Mazatlán—and to the best of our knowledge, in Mexico as a whole—there are no drug treatment facilities equipped for use by people with disabilities that require special accommodations.

The policy of the rehabilitation center is not to admit disabled persons who need special accommodations.

One of our wheelchair-riding Habilítate members who recently relapsed—whom here I will call José—is now voluntarily interned at the Drogadictos Anónimos center in Mazatlán. However he was accepted at this DA center only because his uncle (a former drug user) is now the secretary there. But the policy of this center—like virtually all others—is not to admit disabled persons who need special accommodations. Drogadictos Anónimos Mazatlán has no ramps, so José must be manually carried up and down steps. Likewise, the bathrooms are not wheelchair-accessible. Housing laws are another concern. Because the center fails to meet regulations for disabled residency, every time an inspector shows up, José (or at least his wheelchair) has to sneak away into hiding.

Given the vast unmet need for drug centers that are willing and able to serve disabled people, members of Habilítate recently met with board members of Drogadictos Anónimos Mazatlán to explore the possibilities to adapt the center for legal accommodation and friendly inclusion of disabled persons. To meet state requirements, this will mainly entail building a few small ramps and making at least one bathroom wheelchair accessible. In all, it shouldn’t cost more than US$2,000.

HealthWrights has agreed to try to raise the money to put into operation what we believe will be the first drug-rehab center in Mexico that is specifically equipped and committed to welcome recovering addicts who are also disabled.

The Drogadictos Anónimos Mazatlán center is one in a chain of 37 such centers throughout Mexico. If the Mazatlán branch can transform itself into a disability-friendly facility, it could become a catalyst for far-reaching change. With encouragement others may follow suit. The time is propitious, since “disability rights” are currently a prevailing concern internationally.


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