IPOH: Those with drug addiction problems are encouraged to come forward to the National Anti-Drugs Agency (AADK) voluntarily to get help.
AADK director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah said they are currently running a pioneer project in seven states to curb drug abuse, and one of its initiative was to rehabilitate drug users.
He said drug addiction is a sickness and the users are patients that need to be helped and treated.
"I understand the stigma on drug users is still high, especially if parents who knew their children are involved.
"They will think that this is something embarrassing to the family, and would not want to admit their children are drug users," he told reporters after the closing ceremony of a social media course for 40 AADK senior officers at the police air unit training base here on Wednesday (Aug 21).
"They would rather hide them away. We don't want this sort of thinking, as it will not resolve the problem," he said.
"We want to help them and it will be easier if they just came forward," he added.
Zulkifli said the six-month project, launched early last month, was now being held in 12 high-risk areas.
These included Kota Setar, Padang Terap and Langkawi in Kedah, Sabak Bernam, Hulu Selangor and Petaling (Selangor), Sentul (Kuala Lumpur), Johor Baru, Batu Pahat (Johor), Rompin (Pahang), Kota Baru (Kelantan) and Dungun (Terengganu).
He said only 61 people have stepped forward so far to get help.
"We believe that there are about 3,000 drug addicts in these areas.
"There is still time, so I hope parents, families, schools and the community will encourage them to come forward to get help," he said, adding that the project also involved 15 national agencies and non-governmental organisations.
"If they don't come forward, there is a second option which is for us to get court order to arrest them and we have already arrested 331 people.
"At the same time, we are also taking stern actions against drug pushers," he added.
Zulkifli said there are about 10 rehabilitation centres nationwide, specially set up for those who come forward voluntarily under the project.
"We have about 30 detention centres and would convert these into rehabilitation centres if need be," he said.
"If the project can successfully minimise the number of addicts, it could be expanded nationwide," he added.