Recovery gives youth new chance at life
Updated: 2013-06-24 07:09
By Zhang Yuchen and Wang Shanshan (China Daily)
Meng Jinsheng，trainer at the Rehabilitation Center and former drug addict
"It is rare that addicts completely stop taking narcotics," said Yao Jianlong, assistant professor of the Criminal Justice School at East China University of Political Science and Law. "Just like smoking, taking drugs is a lifelong 'habit' or, more accurately, a compulsion. The damage, both financial and physical, is obvious."
During his three months at the center, Hu led a peaceful life, discussing his problem with the psychiatrists and reflecting on his turbulent seven years.
The drugs scene in China and around the world
Experts say that it makes more sense to intensify efforts to promote education about drugs than to invest in compulsory treatment. Every yuan invested in the education campaign saves seven in the whole budget. The central government has given 400 million yuan to support drugs education during the past four years.
Around 3.5 million drug users in China use hypodermic injection as a means of drug delivery. In China, drug addiction is regarded as both a crime and an illness, but in many other countries, the condition is just seen as an illness.
In Asia as a whole, prevention and treatment are still in the early stages and are not keeping up with the trends of new drug use. Meanwhile, substitution treatment has not been encouraged.
According to a survey conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in 2009, more than 170 countries and regions have been involved in drug trafficking.
Zhao Min, vice-president of Shanghai Mental Health Center , said: "The problems of dealing with opiate addiction are all psychological. Unless the damage caused by drugs has already affected the nervous system, all drug addicts should undergo psychological therapy."
Every afternoon, the center's patients are required to recite the Di Zi Gui, or "students' rules", in classical Chinese. The text, written by Li Yuxiu, a famous scholar and educator during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), aims to teach people "how to become moral human beings".
When he sat quietly, Hu sometimes had a twitch in his temple and he lowered his eyes when bad memories returned. But he became animated when he spoke of the things he has learned at the center. "Now I know how to clean the floor," he said with a proud smile. "I know that's normal for most people, but I never did it before I came to the center."
He said he still dreams of achieving something meaningful. "Maybe I can learn some computer skills at a university, like some of my high school classmates," he said.
The future, however, may not be as bright as he hopes. The international relapse rate among drug addicts is around 95 percent, meaning very few quit completely.
"No one can survive solely by making one decision," said Meng Jinsheng, a 53-year-old volunteer trainer in the center, who was a drug user a decade ago. "They must also find something meaningful to replace the sensations they got by taking drugs."
Hu said the first thing he wanted to do when he left the center was to go home and see his mother, who is still in the hospital.
"I have more confidence now," he said, smiling.
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(China Daily 06/24/2013 page6)