Islamic Republic of Iran

A review of Iran's good practices on treatment of opiates abuse

A delegation from the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan visited the Islamic Republic (I.R) of Iran 9-15 June 2012 for a study tour aimed at familiarizing  themselves with the use of methadone and buprenorphine in treatment of opiate dependence in the I.R. Iran. This study mission was organized by the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) in Iran in partnership with the Iranian Drug Control Headquarters (DCHQ).

Kyrgyzstan is currently implementing methadone pilot projects. Kirghiz officials visited I.R. Iran to review the experience of Iranian professionals, before considering a possible expansion of methadone pilot projects in their country. The delegation discussed these matters with Iran's top drug treatment experts; visiting the Ministry of Health, the DCHQ, the Tehran Psychiatric Institute, the Iranian National Centre for Addiction Studies (INCAS), the National AIDS Research Centre, as well as private drug treatment clinics.

Given their specific pharmacological profile, methadone and buprenorphine contribute to the control of addictive behaviour, reduce craving, and restore the balance of disrupted endocrine function. Methadone and buprenorphine  are considered by UNODC as pharmacological tools supporting the recovery process. Following treatment these drugs result in significant reduction of injection and subsequently risk of HIV transmission. During the visit to the National AIDS Research Centre, Dr. Minoo Mohraz, Director of the Centre, provided evidence of a drastic decrease of HIV incidence among drug users as a result of the work of MMT centres in the country.

The I.R. of Iran has been a leader in prevention, treatment and care of drug use and HIV/AIDS in the region. In 2002, UNODC Iran piloted MMT projects in the country in close collaboration with national counterparts. Later on, those projects were evaluated positively and scaled up at the national level by the Iranian government, which made possible the work of over 2000 MMT centres in the country over the past ten years. Besides the work of the MMT centres, other good practices are being implemented, such as needle exchange, education on safe sex, safe drug use, as well as HIV education programmes.

In the framework of its current Technical Cooperation Programme in the I.R. Iran, UNODC supports national plans through the enhancement of policy-making and technical capacities of drug demand reduction entities, including NGOs active in the area of prevention, treatment and care of drug use and HIV/AIDS. These UNODC endeavours could have not been possible without the financial support from the Governments of Norway, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland. Mr. Antonino De Leo, UNODC Representative in the I.R. of Iran stated that international cooperation is crucial and stressed the importance of evidence-based measures in the area of treatment and care of drug use and HIV control among drug users.