Government to Cut the Number of Drug Addicts by 400,000 in 2012 (21/01/2012)
The Government is taking serious action to bring down the number of drug addicts in Thailand by at least 400,000 in 2012, in an effort to reduce the spread of the narcotics problem.

Public Health Minister Wittaya Buranasiri said that the number of drug addicts increased rapidly, from 470,000 in 2007 to 1.4 million in 2011.

In response to the Government’s clear intention to reduce the drug problem by 80 percent within one year, Mr. Wittaya said that the Ministry of Public Health would set up 928 drug rehabilitation centers in community hospitals nationwide. The centers will be located in 878 districts in the provinces and 50 districts in Bangkok.

A total of 5,000 doctors, nurses, psychologists, and health volunteers in various villages will be equipped with knowledge on drug treatment and rehabilitation. They will help encourage drug users not to return to drug use and prevent vulnerable groups, especially young people, from getting involved with narcotics.

The Government in September 2011 launched a national anti-drug campaign, chaired by Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, who declared the anti-drug drive part of the national agenda, known as the “Force of the Land to Defeat the Drug Problem.”

According to Mr. Wittaya, the Ministry of Public Health has taken steps to act in accordance with the anti-drug drive policy. First, it has instructed the Food and Drug Administration to strictly control precursors and essential chemicals used in the manufacture of narcotic drugs.

Second, the Ministry of Public Health is working with the Ministry of Interior in drug rehabilitation, based on the concept that drug addicts will be regarded as patients who should receive treatment, so that they will return to their homes as productive members of society.

Third, the Ministry of Public Health has joined the “To Be Number One” project, an anti-drug campaign with Princess Ubolratana serving as chairperson. To Be Number One aims to promote solutions to drug problems and prevent drug addiction. It provides drug dependents with chances to become good citizens, while promoting family values and education among young people. The project currently has more than 37 million members across the country.

From October 2010 to September 2011, about 155,000 drug users underwent treatment and rehabilitation nationwide. While getting tough on dealers and traffickers, the Government has set a policy to provide addicts with treatment and rehabilitation. Measures have also been worked out to prevent drug addicts who have given up their addiction from returning to drug use.

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