Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Đặng Thị Tố Nga’s family fell into destitution due to her husband’s heroin addiction.
Nga, from Nông Trang Ward, Việt Trì City in the northern province of Phú Thọ, said that her husband used to be a hardworking man, but drugs turned him into a monster.
“My family and I were mentally affected by him and we felt hopeless,” she said.
With love and sympathy, Nga encouraged her husband to quit.
After two spells of rehab, her husband gave up heroin by the end of 2012. Now, he owns a mechanic workshop in the commune.
Another former heroin addict, Nguyễn Mạnh Hà, from Nghĩa Đô Ward in Hà Nội’s Cầu Giấy District, understands the pain and torment of addiction all too well.
“When I was addicted to drugs, I always felt empty lonely. Seeing my parents in so much hurt, I felt great anguish, but I was totally under the influence of drugs,” said Hà.
Year by year, Hà and his family suffered prolonged pain and sorrow.
“When I became disillusioned with drugs, I was determined to quit,” he said.
After rehab, Hà quickly reintegrated into the community. Now he works for a musical instrument repairing workshop in Cầu Giấy District, earning VNĐ5 million (US$220) per month.
“Everyone, for any reason, should keep far away from drugs. They will pay a heavy price for drug addiction,” said Hà.
Scientific research has showed that drug addiction can harm people’s brains.
Khuất Thị Hải Oanh, director of the Centre for Supporting Community Development Initiatives (SCDI), said that drug-users suffered from paranoia, unreasonable anxiety, hallucinations, as well as several other emotional and behavioural disorders.
Using drugs for a long time could cause depression, leading them to commit murder or suicide, making them dangerous to the community, she said.
According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), all provinces and cities across the country are home to drug addicts.
The addicts can be from all walks of life, including students, workers, poor people, illiterate people and people living in remote areas.
More than 210,000 drug addicts have been documented, and more than 70 per cent are under 35 years old, the age group that is considered the main labour force.
Nguyễn Xuân Lập, director of the Social Evils Prevention Department under the MOLISA, said that the actual number of drug addicts could be much more higher.
In Hà Nội alone, nearly 13,000 drug addicts have been documented, the highest figure in the country.
Nguyễn Đình Hiền, deputy director of the Social Evils Prevention Division under the Hà Nội Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, said that drug dealing and use in the capital city was a serious problem.
“Their tricks are sophisticated so it is difficult for police to catch criminals,” he said.
Drug addicts can undergo various forms of rehab.
By the end of June, more than 105,000 drug addicts across the country were receiving detoxification. Many choose to rehab at home using methadone therapy.
In Hà Nội, about 70 per cent of drug addicts are receiving treatment, but few of them successfully give up drugs.
Every year, on average only about 3,000 have not relapsed within three years of undergoing rehab, meaning only about 1 per cent of drug addicts manage to quit.
Even fewer people find jobs and reintegrate into society.
“That makes the work of drug prevention and control more difficult,” said Lập.
Rocky way back
Nguyễn Ngọc Tuyền, who lives in Mạo Khê Ward, Đông Triều Town in the northern province of Quảng Ninh, said that he was discharged from the Vũ Oai Education and Labour Centre in the province in 2011, after two years of heroin addiction.
Returning home, Tuyền promised to himself that he would never relapse. He wanted to reintegrate into the community, but people didn’t believe he had changed.
“Many even disdained me. I thought that I couldn’t overcome their discrimination. Then I decided that I must start from scratch so that people know my faults have been repaired,” said Tuyền.
Overcoming discrimination, six years after beating his addiction, Tuyền now runs a transport enterprise, which provides for his family and creates jobs for local workers.
Lê Trung Tuấn, chairman of the management committee of the Centre for Psychological Studies and Support to Drug Users (PSD), another former drug addict, said that after rehab, every drug user struggles against cravings for another hit.
“Defeating ourselves is difficult, and overcoming the community’s discrimination is much more difficult,” he said.
“Without skill and spirit, I couldn’t have given up drugs and founded the centre to help other addicts,” said Tuấn.
Tuấn wants the community to change their attitude and behaviour towards drug addicts and help them reintegrate.
Experts from the MOLISA believe another reason for the high relapse rate is local authorities and concerned sectors not doing enough to assist former addicts after they have undergone rehab.
Reports from different provinces and cities showed that since 2012, only about 3,000 individuals and households with drug addicts and people living with HIV could borrow capital with preferential interest. The borrowed funds amounted to only more than VNĐ26 billion (US$1.2 million).
Good models expanding
According to the Social Evils Prevention Department, community reintegration clubs founded by the SCDI in 33 provinces and cities attracted thousands of drug addicts.
The PSD also use different psychological methods to help drug users. It invested more than VNĐ60 billion ($2.7 million) in organising training courses and education on drug prevention and control.
In Hà Nội, the B93 friendship clubs were founded in many wards and became second homes for people after rehab. Typically in Cầu Giấy District, all wards have the clubs. As many as 70 per cent of club members have stable jobs. — VNS