Villa Maraini Foundation – 40 Years!


Villa Maraini Foundation


40 years in support of people affected by drug addiction and their families

Villa Maraini, the most important treatment centre for drug users in Italy, celebrate 40 years of activity in favour of people affected by drug addiction and their families.

Established in 1976 by Massimo Barra, volunteer and later President of the Italian Red Cross, Villa Maraini has assisted and treated more than 40.000 drug users, continuously improving its services and programmes according to the changing needs of its beneficiaries/clients.

“We have not only assisted drug addicts in our services, but we went out to meet them in the streets and suburbs of the city. Our work is a never ending humanitarian mission”, says Gabriele Mori, President of Villa Maraini Foundation.


Data are more significant than words. The emergency unit, active 24h every day, since 1996 has assisted more than 10.000 people in overdose or withdrawal crisis; in 2015, 62.136 methadone doses have been given in the out-patient service and the HIV/HCV Unit has carried out more than 1000 free rapid tests just in 2015. Since 1992, the Street Unit has contacted more than 21.000 drug users, distributed more than 1 million sterile syringesand collected more than 50% of used syringes, conducted more than 2500 overdose interventions. The drop-in centre has had more than 10.000 clients since 1994, while the Therapeutic Community has treated more than 2.100 people. Since 1979, Villa Maraini has received more than 33.000 requests of support from the Italian prisons, and from 2001 around 800 detainees with drug addiction problem have been referred to the alternative centre to detention. Since 1995 more than 140.000 beds have been offered to homeless drug users and since 1986 the helpline service has received more than 170.000 calls and treated around 5.000 people. Only in 2015, 260 individual and group sessions have been conducted for 140 families.

At international level, since 2004 Villa Maraini organizes training courses on harm reduction for Red Cross/Red Crescent National Societies and other public and private organizations, in collaboration with the IFRC and the Italian Red Cross. In 2012, in response to high levels of drug use and related problems globally,Villa Maraini Foundation, theItalian Red Cross and the IFRC have established a tripartite international Partnership on Substance Abuse, which recognizes Villa Maraini as Reference Centre for drug abuse issues of the whole Movement. Aim of this Partnership is to join efforts and expertise to better support RC/RC NSs to expand comprehensive approaches to drug abuse, with a focus on harm reduction and the fight against stigma and social exclusion

of people who use drugs. Since 2004, 29 training courses have been conducted for delegates of 46 Red Cross/Red Crescent National Societies from all around the world.


Moreover, since 2009 Villa Maraini has implemented 4 transnational projects co-funded by the European Commission, which have involved 10 different countries, and targeted 3.000 drug users, 1600 detainees, 500 prison staff, 400 volunteers of RC/RC and 7000 young people all over the world. Since the foundation of the ERNA, Villa Maraini has always supported the Network in terms of training of volunteers and development of joint projects with NSs on HIV, Hepatitis and Drug Abuse.


“Perhaps we were crazy when in 1976 we dreamed to do something in favor of drug users in the context of the Italian Red Cross. Stigma and discrimination toward drug users were very strong at that time, as it is now. And this has made our work very difficult, particularly in terms of sustainability. But the number of people assisted, cured and saved in these 40 years shows that we were right”, declares Massimo Barra, founder of Villa Maraini, who continues: “Our philosophy is that the therapy should be tailored to the subject and not the other way around, as it happens in the majority of therapeutic communities of the world. These 40 years have been an incredible therapeutic adventure, which has saved lives and increased well-being, preventing also thousands of criminal acts. We are proud that Villa Maraini has been recognized as reference centre for drug abuse issues of the whole International Movement of Red Cross and Red Crescent”.

The celebration of the 40 th Anniversary will be held on Friday 30 th September in the premises of the Villa Maraini Foundation/Italian Red Cross from 18.00 to 22.00.

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