Drug addiction reduced by up to 50%

KUANTAN: Treatment of drug addiction with methadone has succeeded in reducing drug addicts in the country by up to 50%.

National Anti-Drugs Agency deputy director-general of operations Prof Dr Mahmood Nazar Mohamed said the method, introduced in 2005, was proven successful.

Based on statistics, he said there were 30,000 registered drug addicts five years ago and this figure had dropped to 14,000 this year.

Life after addiction: (From left) Lasimon, Prof Dr Mahmood Nazar, Dr Chow, Dr Lim andDr Shong taking a closer look at the MoU after the signing ceremony in Kuantan recently.

“Over the past three years, records show the number of drug addicts declining steadily.

“In 2006, there was a reduction of 7,000 addicts to 23,000 while the figure dropped further to 17,000 last year.

“We are happy with the results,” he said after opening the 5th National Conference on Addiction Medicine with the theme Current Issues in Community-Based Drug Substitution Treatment.

During the conference, Dr Mahmood Nazar signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the agency and Addiction Medicine Association of Malaysia represented by its president Dr Steven Chow. Present to witness the signing was the agency’s treatment and rehabilitation director Lasimon Matokrem, the association’s vice-chairman Datuk Dr Lim Boon Sho and its secretary Dr Shong Chin Min.

The MoU marked the first co-operation between the agency and the private sector to enhance treatment and after-care service for rehabilitation-centre inmates.

The association will offer its resources to treat drug addicts and train aftercare-service staff on counselling and managing difficult patients.

Besides this, it will share patient profiles and drug-abuse trends to establish treatment benchmarks and develop a framework to improve the addiction-treatment environment.

Dr Mahmood Nazar said the MoU was aimed at encouraging the private sector to assist the Government in making Malaysia drug-free by 2015.

He said the sharing of information would provide both parties with a better understanding of the changing nature of the threat of illicit drugs.

“We will then be able to accurately target high-risk individuals and address emerging challenges,” he said.

On a separate matter, he said about 8,000 hardcore addicts were undergoing treatment at 28 rehabilitation centres nationwide while another 30,000 were receiving community-based treatment. “I was informed that between 50,000 and 60,000 individuals and former addicts were registered with the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Association of Malaysia for treatment,” he said.

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