A controversial addiction recovery charity funds itself by requiring addicts to do up to 18 hours of work per day while undergoing cold turkey, it has been revealed.
Victory Outreach has five recovery homes in Ireland that care for between 40 and 80 residents per day.
Brian O’Connell, a reporter for RTE's Investigations Unit whose programme will feature on Primetime tonight, will reveal on tonight’s programme how addicts – some in the early stages of recovery – are sent out to fundraise and sell raffle tickets for hours on end.
One addict who joined one of the charity’s recovery homes has told Prime Time how he was charged with illegal fundraising when gardai found him fundraising without a permit.
“It was very humiliating – they actually strip search you. I ended up being locked up in Clover Hill prison twice for fundraising without permits.”
He claimed Victory Outreach refused to give him a letter to state that the fundraising was legitimate.
“[They] said ‘Liam we don’t give out letters like that’. I looked at him and I said ‘well you give out fundraising sheets quick enough and you’re telling me that you will not give a letter to acquit me of this charge. So effectively you’re sending me to prison’.”
“Thank God I was released after two days because I don’t think I could have been able to handle three months in there,” he told Prime Time.
Addicts in the recovery homes engage in very close readings of the bible and prayer, and no professional medical or psychiatric help is provided.
One recovered addict told Prime Time she was not allowed take her prescribed medication for a psychiatric illness, and she suffered a breakdown and had to leave the centre.
“I was suicidal and I was very, very depressed. I cried every day nearly.”
“I came off the drugs in the past but I always stayed on my medication... I was getting benzo fits and stuff like that.”
Mr O’Connell told RTE’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning that Victory Outreach did not respond directly to any issues raised in the programme, but it released a statement saying that Victory Outreach has been running since 1967 and has over 700 churches and centres worldwide.