Trempoline – impulse to jump


In “Their experience” section we continue talking about how one works with drug users in various countries. Today our story is about the Belgian project “Trempoline”. The programm is located in the Charleroi district. The organization provides services to addicts for over 30 years.

It is necessary to share experience. Good practices, not the best ones. The ones that work there, cannot work here. That is why it is necessary to take into consideration local peculiarities.

Study, Study and Study, One More Time

Trempoline jubilee
“Trempoline”: wishes for the 1988-2018 anniversary

Everything began in 1988 when day center was opened in Charleroi (Belgium). First “Trempoline” was oriented at novice drug users (so called secondary prevention*). Soon it became clear that patients who asked for help had quite severe personality disorders. That is why the difference between “secondary prevention” and “tertiary prevention”** in this situation was inappropriate. Abuse of psychotropic drugs grew rapidly starting 1986 and till the opening of day center in Charleroi there was no center of reception and treatment for addicts. This required a certain repeated adaptation of the project. Thus, day center was concluded with therapeutic program. Employees were trained in Rome (Italy). They began to use therapeutic instruments, similar to those that have worked well in Italy.

* Secondary prevention applies to individuals who already experience the effects of addiction problems, but do not show signs of illness. Its goal is to minimize the duration of exposure to psychoactive substances to a person, limit the degree of harm caused by abuse, and prevent the development of a chronic disease.

** Tertiary prevention includes interventions aimed at preventing disruptions and relapses. It is a comprehensive directional use of medical, psychological, social, educational and labor measures in order to adapt the addict to the activity at the highest possible level for him.

Search and development

That is why the employees of “Trempoline” are open for the experience of other organizations.

On the territory of the organization there are several buildings

In 1990 the third phase (social reintegration) of the program was opened. Thus, there were completed all elements of full therapeutic program. From first contacts till return to society. In 1992 organization decided to go further to invent new formulas and to continue satisfying existing social needs. And not waiting for them to be asked or paid for it. Such an idealistic courage was inspired by experience gained abroad: in Italy, in Spain, in Greece and in France. From 1997 “Trempoline” is located at Chatelet (Charleroi suburbs).

 Chatelet is the center which does not resemble anything else…

trempoline "Kangourou"
“Kangourou” – a department for mothers with children

At the end of 90s the fact that some women participated in the program contributed to the opening of the new direction. Some of the drug addicted women with a child refused to start therapy because either of the fear to lose custody of their children or because therapy at place of residence would force them to be departed with their child because of the length of psycho-pedagogical program. Thus, in May of 2000 the “Kangourou” service was open which allowed these mothers to join the accommodation program in “Trempoline” without departing from their children. For this purpose, the house was organized in the fencing of the park. In 2014 there was created a new specialized ambulance service for teenagers and young people who lagged but with the philosophy of therapeutic societies. Also, in 2014 the “Kangourou” service for “drug addicted fathers” with children was open.

Flexibility in Analyzing Their Work

Today “Trempoline” is an international society. This is not only Belgians but also Armenians and Chileans. This is a huge territory in Chatelet with not covering all the departments.

hands of the residents
Handprints of graduates of the program

One of the peculiarities is that the first stage of the program usually lasts 2 months, in some rare cases up to 3 months. They live separately from the main therapeutic society.

They should feel themselves comfortably. The program is very soft for them otherwise they would quit.

Castle (chalet) “Trempoline”

The center is not working with alcoholics. Only with those who use drugs and use alcohol as well. This is another work, they are mainly socialized, they have work. As for the staff itself, they undergo the rule of full chemical purity during their work.

Because we are the models for them. That is why we don’t drink.


The state recognizes addiction as a disease. That is why one can find oneself in this center on health insurance. For those who don’t have insurance the social service helps to execute documents. But if the one doesn’t have them this is not the reason to refuse from passing this program. There is a stigma towards addicts in Belgium, but it is very small.

trempoline strawberry fields
Strawberry fields forever

“We invite neighbors so that they would see what we do.

At present moment there are 18 persons in the therapeutic society and no one in the “Kangourou” program. Once a week specialists-professionals come and teach them to cook various dishes, how to work in the garden and so on. The program takes 18 months. Several years ago the major drug was heroin, now the participants are multiple drugs addicts.

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