HCM CITY (VNS) — City officials are concerned that due to longer and more confused procedures, a large number of drug addicts will be unable to enter mandatory treatment centres.
The Law on Sanctioning Administrative Violations, which took effect on January 1, states that repeat drug offenders have to go through compulsory drug rehabilitation for 1 to 2 years if they suffer a relapse after completing community rehabilitation at the first offense.
However, the law transfers the power to send them to compulsory rehabilitation from local People's Committee to district-level courts and judges, and it could take up to six months, according to Tran Trung Dung, director of HCM City Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.
Concerns were raised during a meeting earlier this week of the HCM City People's Committee, that said drug addicts would not receive the treatment they normally should.
Dung said the city has been working to provide treatment for drug addicts at both mandatory centres and in the community, with many parents even convinced their children to undergo treatment at mandatory centres.
From now until the end of the year, more than 4,500 reformed addicts would be returned to the community, raising fears that some of them could engage in criminal activities, Dung said.
His department will suggest to the city People's Committee to allow the Binh Trieu Centre for Drug Rehabilitation to accept drug addicts, till such time they are accepted at the mandatory treatment centres.
HCM City deputies have also called for clearer guidelines to implement the law.
According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, an average of between 75 to 90 per cent of drug addicts treated nationwide have suffered a relapse after rehabilitation.
A programme for drug addicts that uses methadone at eight rehabilitation centres has succeeded in helping patients recover their health, city officials of HCM City have said.
Dung from the HCM City Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs said the methadone treatment programme should be offered at other rehabilitation centres in the city's districts.
Quoting figures released by the city's AIDS Prevention Committee, Dung said that more than 1,550 people had taken part in the methadone treatment programme as of the end of June.
"Most of the patients' psychological and health conditions improved, and more than 50 per cent of them now have stable jobs," he said, adding that the city had approved methadone treatment for use at the city's 24 district-level hospitals.
Very few drug addicts are willing to take part in the programme voluntarily, and most receive compulsory rehabilitation treatment, he said.
At least 34 drug addicts since 2010 were ordered to receive compulsory treatment, but were allowed to stay at home rather than live at rehab centres. The remaining patients who were required to receive treatment lived at the centres.
About 8,600 people in HCM City are living and being treated at compulsory rehabilitation centres, and 3,200 former addicst are monitored by their families and local communities.
In addition to the city's rehab centres, there are four private ones, where 347 people are now being treated. — VNS