Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway were in Oslo this week to meet with patients and staff of drug treatment centre The Retreat.
The Retreat is a resource and haven for people seeking help in their battle against drug addiction or in need of support for mental illness and other life challenges. The devoted staff of the centre strive to be resource to ‘help bring people back to life’ and work to identify and support patients through treatment and support in day-to-day life.
Much of the success of The Retreat comes from the fact that many members of staff have themselves overcome addiction and drug-related issues. This allows them draw from their own experiences while providing treatment and gives them unique insight into the challenges that people face as they work to get clean and resume normal life.
During a briefing the royal couple heard from General Manager Rita Nilsen, who overcame nearly 25 years of addiction after having been introduced to drugs at the age of just ten years old. After getting clean, Rita helped to found The Retreat and has helped hundreds of people in her role. She drew on this wealth of experience to share with the Crown Prince and Princess the methods used at the centre and how the difficult experiences of the staff have made them a force for good.
Another staff member who met with the royal couple spoke to them about how she had lived on the streets while battling drug addiction, eventually losing the right to care for her children and ending up in prison. Now fully rehabilitated she has regained parental control, has a home of her own and found stability with a permanent job at The Retreat where she is able to help others.
Rapper Endless was also on hand and spoke to the Crown Princess about his experiences with drugs (he has now been clean for two years) and how overcoming his challenges brought him his current success. He performed a song for the crowd which was dedicated to a friend he lost while in prison.
Before leaving the royals were treated to waffles and the opportunity to have an informal chat with users of The Retreat who thanked them for coming. Crown Prince Haakon praised the staff for sharing their stories and for using their challenges to become a force for good in the lives of others.