Shaking Off Addiction
Zhongshan City is located in central southern Guangdong Province. The southern division of Zhongshan No. 2 People’s Hospital provides medical services such as a methadone clinic and compulsory detoxification.
Mr. Li, 50 years old, is a patient who has received such treatment there for a year. He was caught abusing drugs by police and admitted into detoxification treatment. He was transferred to the hospital from a drug rehabilitation center when he was diagnosed with a severe heart disease, so that he could receive better medical treatment during his rehabilitation.
“I feel much better here, where I can read and play poker every day,” grins Li. According to Dr. Qian, the facilities there are sufficient to treat his heart disease, and Li will receive a coronary bypass as soon as he recovers from detoxification.
Drug abuse is a global issue. In recent years, China has frequently cracked down on drug-related crimes. Helping drug abusers conquer addiction and get their lives back on track has become a daunting social task.
In the past, public security organizations could barely find proper places to house drug abusers who suffered from serious, often contagious diseases such as AIDS or hepatitis. Things have changed over the past few years. The municipal government of Zhongshan, for instance, blazed a new path by linking departments of public security and health to help victims overcome addiction while their diseases are treated.
The southern division of Zhongshan No. 2 People’s Hospital is one place where such compassionate care is given.
According to Wang Jun, head of the division, it began providing medical services for patients in custody of the local drug rehabilitation center in June 2011 and transferring them to other hospitals when necessary.
“This hospital is tackling problems that have plagued us for so long time,” asserts Tan Pei’an, vice mayor of Zhongshan and director of the municipal public security bureau.
In China, detoxification can be either compulsory or voluntary. It’s not strange to see many repeat abusers fall back into old ways after rehabilitation. Today, many methadone treatment clinics have been established to manage the situation.
According to Wang Gaoxi, president of Zhongshan Drug Control Association, methadone is a narcotic analgesic similar to morphine that effectively and persistently controls addiction to opioids such as heroin.
In Western countries such as Britain and the United States, methadone therapy is believed to be one of the most effective methods to control heroin addiction; it is delivered to addicts free of charge.
Guangdong Lianzhong Social General Service Center is a social organization specializing in drug control and psychological consultation. Every year, the municipal government of Zhongshan provides 2 million yuan to the center for drug treatment at the community level, which helps track down abusers who refuse to cooperate.
In the fall of 2015, Zhuhai College under Jilin University joined hands with Lianzhong to offer undergraduate courses concerning drug control for social workers, and the first class of students are scheduled to graduate in 2017, which will provide greater manpower to help the situation.
After leaving a rehabilitation center, many recovered addicts have trouble finding a job, making a relapse more likely. Thus, a crucial issue has been how to help them find employment and support themselves. A successful model emerged from the Sunshine Project in Guizhou Province.
In the Sunshine Employment Home in Qingzhen Town, Guiyang, the provincial seat, 36-year-old Chen Ying sews enthusiastically. “I was unlucky enough to get involved with heroin while working in Guangxi (Zhuang Autonomous Region) in 1997,” recalls Chen. “I haven’t touched drugs since I left the rehabilitation center thanks to support from my family and the community. But I tried everything to secure a job, yet no one dared hire someone like me. I was desperate until the community finally gave me a hand.”
At first, she assembled electronic components, and now she makes clothes. “Most of our orders are school or work uniforms,” she reveals. “And business is pretty stable.” Every month, Chen earns more than 2,000 yuan, enough to pay the bills.
Over 100 people like Chen Ying work in the Sunshine Employment Home. In five years, it has provided jobs for some 400 recovered addicts, many of whom learned valuable techniques that help secure longterm employment. Across Guizhou, 140 enterprises have been committed to partnerships with the Sunshine Project, creating jobs for more than 2,000 people.
“We enjoy tax breaks and rebates from the local government as well as the privilege of making school and work uniforms for government clients,” illustrates supervisor Huang Fei. “Over the years, I have been running the Sunshine Employment Home. I have experienced rejection, suspicion, and friendship. Today, we are family. This is how it works. I hope that everyone here continues living with dignity.”