Issue of drug abuse in Hanoi

Ha Noi, Jan. 11 (VNA) -- Ha Noi is encountering widespread drug abuse and trafficking despite its initial achievements in drug control, says director of the Metropolitan Social Evils Control Department, Nguyen Vi Hung.

Hung says the abuse and trafficking is a pressing issue and constitutes a great loss to the entire community.

The senior officials who was addressing a meeting of the Ha Noi People's Council last week, says relentless endeavours have been made to halt the spread of drug abuse and addiction.

As a result, by the end of 2000, the total of known drug addicts in Ha Noi was reduced to 9,468 or 533 persons less than 1999 and the number of drug-free wards and communes had been raised to 23 from 18 in 1999.

Hung says that Ha Noi has opened an additional drug detoxification centre and doubled the time of detoxification to six months and this has helped reduce the rate of relapsed addicts.

Each year, Ha Noi has about 10,000 addicts, who spend more than VND 300 billion, he told the meeting, emphasising that detoxification must enable addicts to quit drug abuse for five years in succession. He says that a series of steps should be taken to help drug addicts while they are detoxifying.

These include encouraging addicts to voluntarily enter detoxification centres, providing them with the proper conditions and environment for health recovery, education and occupational therapy and vocational training and practice.

Follow-up measures must be also taken to help them completely escape addiction.

Hung says these measures comprise management and consultancy after detoxification as well as relapse prevention and job provision.

Ha Noi is ranked second after Ho Chi Minh City in drug addiction and abuse and drug trafficking remains unabated and more serious. Only five percent of all drugs illegally used are controlled while about five percent of the total addicts have entirely quit their habits after leaving detoxification centres.

The city has devised a plan to fight drug control in a bid to stop the spread of drug addiction by 2002, with priority given the renewal of detoxification work and halting drug trafficking.

The plan includes simplying detoxification procedures in favour of addicts; building more detoxification centres to accommodate between 4,000-5,000 addicts by 2003; increasing the time for concentrated detoxification to two or three years; allowing both imports and use of medicines to help encounter relapsed addiction; and providing more investment, consultancy and re-education for addicts after drug detoxification.--VNA