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If a Palestinian lives in Jerusalem and can afford treatment, he may enter an Israeli government rehabilitation center – space permitting. These are actually a somewhat cheaper option than the Good Friend, which costs inpatients $550 a month, because they are largely subsidized by the Israeli government.

For the thousands of addicts living outside Jerusalem, the Good Friend – and its 27 beds – is their only option for inpatient care.

The Good Friend takes a family approach to recovery. When a new addict arrives, he stops using drugs and immediately enters the extreme psychological and physical suffering of withdrawal.

The newcomer must have another resident – his “shadow” in Good Friend parlance – with him at all times during withdrawal. This approach ensures that the addict does not leave or hurt himself. It also gives the “shadow,” always an addict who is further along in his recovery, a chance to gauge his own progress.

Addicts typically stay at the facility for as little as three months, or more often, upward of a year.

Mr. Alloush is proud of the center’s success rate for graduating addicts who stay clean. That rate – a seemingly small 22 percent – is actually quite high, Mr. Alloush explains, comparing it to a success rate of 4 percent in the United States and 17 percent in Israel. He boasts also that the facility has had tremendous success with extended families, managing to keep them together about 80 percent of the time.

While, in the face of an overwhelming physical addiction, recovery from drugs seems to be a more critical issue than working on the strength of a marriage, service providers say they understand the importance of doing both. After all, many of Jerusalem’s addicts fell into drugs in the first place due, in part, to broken family structures.

And without a strong family to return to, an addict may soon be back in the shadows of the Old City walls.

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Ben Cramer, a journalist and radio producer living in New York City, is a frequent contributor.



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Tags: Palestine Alcoholism Substance Abuse