About us

  

The origins of Dianova

The seventies: The Beginnings

After 40 years of unprecedented economic expansion the engine of economical progress has begun to slow down while increasing discrepancies occur between real progress and sociocultural evolution. In many countries, the youth rebel - against the Establishment and the Vietnam War, and for civil rights, for women’s rights and for freedom of behavior. Drugs become the symbols of protest and freedom, leading to explosive drug use worldwide.

  • 1974, the opening of "La Boere", in France, by Lucien Engelmajer – alternative community open to all comers, based on the Summerhill School education model and classless management practices (1). Foundation of the association "Le Patriarche".
  • Invention of the Patriarch methodology, based on a drug-free and substitute-free approach to withdrawal, a re-defining of social ties and the supervision of new-comers by “those who have experienced the same problem" – his/her peers. The Patriarch's motto: "help, to be helped".
  • Instant success: the Patriarch brings along a concrete, efficient response while the traditional establishment still relies on repressive measures and individual, psychiatry-based treatment approaches. 

The eighties: An Unprecedented Expansion in Europe and the Americas

Substance abuse has become a major public health issue. Healthcare responses get fully organized in most countries. Dating from 1985, hepatitis and AIDS-related concerns totally disrupt healthcare policies and mentalities.

  • The Patriarch opens a multitude of centers in Europe and the Americas. By the time the decade comes to an end, the organization has more than 5,000 residents in 210 centers located in 17 countries.
  • In 1985 the AIDS pandemic breaks out. By 1989 half of new residents are HIV-positive. The Patriarch manages to provide those with AIDS or HIV-positive with an organized response based on "Health Spaces", use of clinical trials and destigmatizing the condition.

The nineties: Impending Failure and takeover – The Birth of Dianova

Available addictive drugs and consumption patterns become more diversified. Needs change. Social and healthcare responses have to adjust: harm-reduction programs, specialized therapeutic communities, professionalization of resources.

  • The Patriarch is unable to meet the new challenges of substance abuse treatment.
  • Critics become widespread, notably aiming at the lack of professional personnel, and unpaid labor-imposed standard.
  • In the organization, many deplore the distortion of the Patriarch's original purpose – helping those suffering from substance abuse – and its growing isolation. This internal trend strengthens to become a protest, then an opposition movement   In February 1998, after an internal consultation by concerned Dianova personnel, Lucian Engelmajer is removed from office.
  • The organization begins a process of drastic, fundamental overhaul: reduction of the number of facilities, delineation of a therapeutic program, professionalization of services and personnel, standardization and openness of management practices.

1998-2000: the Transition – Development of a Fully-shared Project for the Future – First Steps towards the Dianova Network

Although it was initially limited to a few countries, cocaine use spreads rapidly throughout most western countries, while ecstasy use, originating among "techno rave" groups in the UK and the US, expands elsewhere, reaching out to a middle-class, professional public.

  • The organization adopts the corporate name, Dianova, in order to emphasize its renewal. Local organizations become separate, independent Dianova members.
  • Local organizations elect a transition committee, the objectives of which are to safeguard the cohesiveness of the member organizations, to support local executive direction and develop a fully-shared plan for the future.
  • After a broad consultative and carefully thought-out deliberation, the basic principles of Dianova are written. Member organizations are now united by a common name, mission, values, policies and principles – acknowledged and shared by all. Birth of the Dianova network.
  • The project is on its way: it will develop based on four main principles: openness, quality of service, professionalization and the development of ties with other networks - on a local, national and international basis.
  • End of 2000, Dianova members and all of their employees are united by a contractual relationship.

Twenty-first century: Services aimed at self-reliance and social progress

Multiple drug use and dual diagnosis – co-occurring mental illness and problematic drug use – increase. At the same time, the perception of addiction is changing: it now includes addiction to legal drugs, as well as the so-called drug-free addictions.

  • Dianova pursues a process of modernization and adapts its services to new trends. In December 2002, the organization hosts its first conference to promote exchanges of best practices in the field of addiction treatment.
  • Another stage of the organization's development is exemplified by the explicit recognition of Dianova's increasing variety of services prescribed by a new mission statement. Dianova is now committed not only to helping those suffering from addiction, but more broadly to helping people become self-reliant and achieve social progress.
  • In 2007, Dianova International is granted special consultative status to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, which brings about new opportunities for cooperation with other NGO's at the local, national and international levels.
  • In November 2008, Dianova celebrates its 10-year anniversary in Madrid and evaluates the process of change thus far: all Dianova facilities are now officially recognized and integrated in local networks; more than 150 local health care agreements have been signed, and all Dianova teams consist of skilled professional and managerial personnel.

(1) View documentary film "Imagine a Shool... Summerhill" and the Wikipedia article about the same educational experience