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Tuesday, September 17th, 2019

Addressing addiction

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by April 15, 2017 General

THE National Anti-Drug Agency (Nada) is drafting a standard operating procedure (SOP) for privately-run drug rehab centres.

The move, says Nada enforcement and security director Zainudin Abdullah, will allow for programmes and operations to be properly monitored. It’ll also ensure that work done is in line with the Government’s guidelines. NGOs that don’t comply won’t be allowed to operate, he says.

A collaboration with the Health Ministry to set up one-stop centres for addiction, is also in the pipeline, he says, adding that more than half of former addicts monitored by the agency are successfully rehabilitated.

Last year, the agency conducted a rehabilitation index study of 12,362 former addicts nationwide to measure the success of its programmes. The group was evaluated based on the status of drug and illegal substance use, rehabilitation support, employment, ability to function socially, readiness to change, and psychological health.

“We had 60.2% successes, but 4,919, or 39.8%, relapsed. Of the 7,443 success stories, 38.7% showed ‘good’ progress while 21.5% were in the ‘excellent’ category,” he shares.

On March 21, Deputy Home Minister and Malaysian Drug Prevention Association (Pemadam) chief Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed told Parliament the number of drug addicts rose from 26,668 in 2015, to 30,846 last year.

Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) senior vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye hopes to see Pemadam active again with Nur Jazlan at the helm. Lee, who served as Pemadam vice-president for 12 years, believes the country’s largest NGO dedicated to drug-prevention, has a big role to play.

Parents too, he says, must be educated so they can help their children who are caught in the habit. Many, he feels, are either too ashamed by the stigma or simply don’t know who to turn to.

“Pemadam used to be very active at federal, state and district levels. With drug abuse on the rise, we must focus on raising awareness at schools and in communities. Our preventive efforts just aren’t up to mark.”

With urbanisation, youths – especially those from lower income households – are vulnerable to getting tangled with the wrong crowd. Peer pressure causes them to go astray and now, with syndicates targeting students, preventing drug abuse is a challenge, he notes.

Lamenting how more children are getting stuck on glue sniffing, Zainudin says Nada is working with the Education Ministry on Pintar 2.0 – an intellectual and spiritual care programme – that’s being carried out in 178 high-risk areas. Last year, a total of 3,718 students aged between 10 and 12 participated in the programme.

Malaysia, he shares, follows the Asean Work Plan on Securing Communities Against Illicit Drugs 2016-2025. The work plan, to address illicit drug activities and mitigate its negative consequences to society, was adopted by member countries during the 5th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Drug Matters in Singapore last year.

“We cannot compare treatment methods and say which country’s doing it better. Although we’re all guided by the Asean Work Plan, each nation adopts the best methods according to their cultural and religious norms,” he says.

Malaysia takes an integrated and holistic approach to rehabilitation, adopting both voluntary and compulsory treatments. Ours, he says, is considered one of the best evidence-based programmes in Asia. Nada runs:

> 10 1Malaysia Cure & Care Clinics.

> 38 Cure & Care Service Centres.

> 78 Caring Community Houses.

> 16 Client Integration Centres operating as transit centres to help recovering drug users.

> Mobile caring services for hard-to-reach locations.

> A treatment centre in Johor Baru for amphetamine-type stimulant users.

> A dedicated treatment centre for women.

> A treatment facility for children that allows them to continue schooling.

> A special treatment modality based on Islamic principles implemented in selected treatment facilities.

> A Cure & Care Vocational Centre in Sepang, Selangor.

There’s no ‘one right way’ to rehabilitate addicts, says Zainudin. Much depends on the individual’s needs. In an institution, addicts undergo systematic treatment in a controlled environment. This allows for successful rehabilitation. The danger is when they go back into the community. An uncontrolled environment could lead to relapse so they must have strong coping mechanisms. That’s why the community, he stresses, plays a crucial role in ensuring that rehabilitated addicts remain clean. Society must offer motivational support, acceptance, and job opportunities, he stresses.

Nada’s Cure & Care Vocational Centre offers Malaysian Skills Certificate (SKM) courses to help rehabilitated addicts secure jobs so that they don’t return to the habit.

Last year, 252 trainees completed the centre’s six-month electrical, sewing, welding, landscaping, pastry-making, construction and automotive courses. And, as part of a collaboration with Felda, workers are supplied to the plantation industry under the Oil Palm For Live (OPAL) project. As of February this year, 43,532 individuals who have left the agency’s rehabilitation centres, are gainfully employed.

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