|Nguyễn Minh Hiếu sits next to the box of used needles he collects in HCM City. Photo baochinhphu.vn
HÀ NỘI — Nguyễn Minh Hiếu's life used to be spent in and out of rehab centres in HCM City to fight his drug addiction. After seven times in rehab, he finally kicked his addiction.
As well as rebuilding his own life, Hiếu has set up a volunteer group to help local drug addicts get back to normal life.
“I set up the Nụ Cười (Smile) Group to help those who have lost their way just like I did get rid of drugs and become a good person,” he told the online newspaper baochinhphu.vn.
Located in an apartment in HCM City’s District 8, the group focuses on helping intravenous drug users as these people face a high risk of HIV transmission. These addicts are given new needles and HIV tests, as well as support to access methadone maintenance therapy and antiretroviral (ARV) therapy.
Several times per week, the group goes to hotspots for drug addicts to collect used needles to help curb the transmission of HIV/AIDS.
Hiếu and the group have been doing this job for eight years. Seeing and talking to hundreds of drug addicts, Hiếu said what they needed most was positive energy to get close to drug users.
“Drug addicts have only one goal: how to get money to satisfy their addiction. What I need to do is to let them trust me, but not by giving them money,” he said.
“They might not understand our good intentions, but they will later on,” he said.
Hiếu said some people in his group were drug addicts and still under methadone treatment and were in the group to try and give up their drug habit and help others, too.
When asked about his family, Hiếu said proudly that they had supported everything he had done.
“My family used to lose faith in me after many broken promises to give up drugs. They were desperate about me being an addict father, husband and son. Whenever I rushed out of the house, they were hopeless,” he said.
“But now they care and support me, even when I’m out all day. How proud!” he said. — VNS