New Straits Times
NEW ‘WEAPON’ AGAINST DRUG ABUSE
THE authorities are trialling a new rehabilitation programme that may change the way Malaysia deals with its long-time No. 1 foe.
ALARGE number of drug addicts are undergoing a special programme that not only promises to reduce the prospect of relapse, but also to give them a better chance of reassimilating into society.
In the pilot project, recovering addicts are sent to a National Service training camp.
The programme, which involves 200 drug addicts from Selangor, might be expanded to the thousands undergoing drug rehabilitation nationwide.
These include those in Kuala Muda in Kedah, Kemaman in Terengganu, Jengka in Pahang and Jelai in Negri Sembilan.
The initiative, under the New Blue Ocean Strategy, is led by the National Anti-Drugs Agency (Nada) in cooperation with the National Service Training Programme, Health Ministry, People’s Volunteer Corps and the police.
The programme could replace other rehabilitation measures, which some considered served only to isolate recovering addicts and remove them from society.
The 200 addicts, aged between 18 and 35, are placed at the National Service camp in Semenyih, Selangor, for two months.
They will undergo training based on a module outlined by the National Service, which focuses on personal, social and spiritual development.
They include treatment and rehabilitation, psychological evaluation, vocational training, career counselling, nationalism, behavioural therapy, physical fitness and spirituality.
Nada director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Halim Mohd Hussin said a strong sense of nationalism and patriotism would be instilled in participants.
“The society-based programme for drug addicts is a trend all over the world.
“There are a lot of drug addicts in society, but to tackle this social problem, rehabilitation programmes must be inclusive, not exclusive. The addicts were part of society before, but they were living in their own world.
“So here, they unlearn and relearn about life. We equip them with knowledge to return to a normal life.”
Looking ahead to Transformasi Nasional 2050, Halim said there was no need for a rehabilitation centre in the future.
“We want drug addicts to be healed in a programme that involves the community.
“However, there must be structures in the programme because drug addicts need time to recover. So, we need to set a timeframe for treatment and rehabilitation.”
He added that in the future, drug addicts who sought treatment could voluntarily join the programme without having to have Nada knock on the doors of private rehabilitation centres.
For the pilot programme, the participants must be aged between 18 and 35, be able-bodied, free from other diseases, ready to commit to the programme, and free from other criminal cases.
The two-month programme will not be the end of the matter.
The participants, Halim said, would return to their communities and become a part of society.
Nada, through its district headquarters, would engage local committees to make sure the participants were well looked after.
“The aftercare is of utmost importance. This is where the community shares the responsibility in helping addicts assimilate into society. We don’t want participants to feel isolated, which could lead to a relapse.
“The reality now is that people do not want to get close to drug addicts.”
He said the agency would monitor the participants for 10 months to ensure they assimilated into society.
“Relapsing is part of the journey in the recovery process. Even normal people have their own battles to fight. We will monitor and guide the addicts to ensure they do not relapse.”
He added that the cooperation among agencies in running the programme was in line with the New Blue Ocean Strategy’s principles of executing ideas that were low cost, had a high impact, could be speedily executed and were sustainable.
On his hopes for the programme, he said: “We are not hoping for miracles, but we have faith in what we do”.