Akia Feggans, the director of behavioral health at the Diana Baldwin Clinic, and Karen Shible, a therapist at Teach Recovery Education Empowerment (TREE), visited Solutions Journalism: Covering Addiction today to talk to the class about the services offered through Philadelphia FIGHT, the organization that runs both Diana Baldwin and TREE. Philadelphia FIGHT is a health services organization that provides primary care, education, research and advocacy for individuals living with or at high risk for HIV/AIDS.
Philadelphia FIGHT: Maturing the Brain
by Marianna Sann
Addiction has always been present and problematic in Philadelphia, but it is only being addressed now by the media and government because it’s affecting upper middle class white people. The “Badlands,” areas comprised in Kensington and Frankford, are essentially where heroin is bought and sold. It is said to be the largest open air drug market in the country.
Headquartered on 12th & Locust street, Philadelphia FIGHT is a federally funded health organization whose mission is to provide comprehensive HIV primary care for low income members of the community. With three healthcare centers and two programs, Philadelphia FIGHT serves HIV positive, high-risk individuals, communities with high rates of HIV, and formerly incarcerated persons.
Philadelphia FIGHT offers a program called Teach Recovery Education Empowerment (TREE), a licensed Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for people living with HIV/AIDS, and struggling with drugs and alcohol. Akia Feggans and Karin Scheibel, an administrator and therapist in TREE IOP, spoke about the group and individual sessions they offered per week.
According to Feggans, a person using hard core drugs at 18 years old inadvertently stopped their brain growth the moment they started using. So, even if they are now 42 years old, they are the age of when they first started using. The jobs of therapists like Scheibel is to work closely with patients to help mature the brains to reach their actual age.
“Our goal is for people to be clean, and be productive and part of their community again,” said Akia. Philadelphia FIGHT wants to empower members to question their doctors and learn about their medication and choices. They want to help individuals discover their identities and have integrity. Because there is no exact science when dealing with the mind, and because every drug user is not the same, diagnosing and aiding patients is difficult.