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Drug addiction a headache for Savannakhet authorities

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Article from Vientiane Times
Author: Vientiane Times Reporters
Published: 1/06/2009
Newspaper section: International Cooperation

The relatively high number of amphetamine and other drug addicts in Savannakhet province is worrying authorities.

The Provincial Committee on Drug Control and Supervision estimates there are at least 3,000 amphetamine addicts in the province.

Deputy Head of the committee in Savannakhet Mr Somchan Chuangbaikham said the number was revealed at a committee meeting held last month to review the progress of provincial drug control measures for the first six months of 2009.

"We have paid close attention to drug control in Savannakhet province and we cons ider a strategy for solving this problem to be a necessity.

"It is not an easy problem to solve because the availability of drugs mostly extends into other big districts, especially those that are located along the Mekong River ," he said.

The collection of statistics on drug addiction, users and sellers was also a challenge. It is estimated that the 3,000 or more amphetamine addicts are mostly young people, either students or workers.

In the first six months of this year, the committee worked hard to disseminate information on the dangers of drugs by focusing on schools and village groups thought to be especially at risk regarding drug sale, use and addiction, he said.

The province also used strict measures to prevent and monitor those involved in drug sales and addiction.

In the year to date, provincial police have arrested 27 people involved in 19 cases, and seized 3,492 amphetamine tablets.

More than 540 drug addicts have made use of rehabilitation and treatment services at the provincial rehabilitation centre since it opened in 2006.

The centre now has 38 addicts under treatment, Mr Somchan said.

"The drug problem is a difficult issue because it involves many other problems and areas.

"It needs all of us and various organisations to closely cooperate. There is also a need to stick strictly to proper process, principles and measures in order to monitor and control it," he said.

The provincial leadership was very concerned and was focusing efforts to continue control measures and adjust policy to help with the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts.