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Growing drug addiction issue requires multi-pronged solution

Update: December, 27/2012 - 08:58

The growing number of drug addicts means detoxification centres cannot be scaled down. Le Duc Hien, deputy director of the Department of Social Vice Prevention, spoke to Do thi Ngay nay (Cities Today) about the dilemma.

What do you think about Resolution 16/2003/QH 11 issued by the National Assembly about a pilot model to teach work skills to drug addicts returning home from detoxification centres?


Addiction on the rise

According to statistics from the Ministry of Public Security, in June, Viet Nam had 171,400 drug addicts - an increase of 12,900 over the same period last year.

Forty nine out of 63 provinces and cities nationwide report drug addicts. Twenty four per cent of them stay in detoxification centres and 11 per cent are in prisons or rehabilitation centres. Ninety six per cent of the addicts are men. Fifty per cent of the addicts are aged from 16 to 30 and the other 50 percent are above 30.

I think it is good. During their stay in the centres, they are taught some skills and put them into practice. They also learn how to cultivate friendship among their peers in a healthy environment without toxic drugs.

HCM City and many other localities have carried out community-based treatment for drug addicts and post-treatment management, so why is the number of drug addicts still increasing?

The community-based treatment model is a failure due to poor infrastructure facilities, lack of funding, low quality medical staff and ineffective co-operation between relevant agencies. Meanwhile, authorities in some localities want to send drug addicts to the centres in a belief that they will quickly abandon their addiction, thus law and order in their localities will be much safer.

The failure has also been caused by lack of determination and poor awareness by local authorities about the role played by the community in helping addicts become good citizens again.

So how can we make community-based treatment a success?

Community and family-based treatment will only be successful when everyone has confidence in the model and its benefits. Of course, we have to show them scientific evidence. Success needs an integrated effort by the political system, the people, social organisations and non-governmental organisations.

Detoxification is only one issue in the fight against drugs. To make the fight successful, we cannot forget communication to raise people's awareness, including efforts to reduce stigma against addicts. Addicts need our support to help them overcome their hard times during detoxification and rehabilitation.

Do you think that if community-based treatment is successful, detoxification centres can be scaled down?

No, I don't think so. The two models must support each other. But what we have to do is to make the environment in the centres more friendly towards the inhabitants. Of course, people attending the centres are severe cases and are a threat to law and order and the peaceful life of other people. But, in the future, we will run a pilot model along the lines of an open centre.

Will you please explain the open-centre model?

It's the place addicts can attend voluntarily when they have a desire to free themselves from drugs. For HCM City and Ha Noi, most of the existing detoxification centres there will switch to open centres. The centres will be refurbished and more services will be offered according to the needs of addicts. Treatment time will be from six to 12 months or even longer, but it will cost much more than at the existing centres. The first demonstration open centres are expected to run in 2013. — VNS

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