Shak­ing Off Ad­dic­tion

China Pictorial (English) - - Contents - Text and photographs by Qin Bin

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.

No-re­fusal Hospi­tal

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.

Com­mu­nity Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion

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.

Busy Hands

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.”

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