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Piloting Community Based Drug Counseling Services in Vientiane

Article from UNODC
Published: 13/09/2012
Newspaper section: International Cooperation
Photos: UNODC

Vientiane, 13th September 2012 - Drug abuse remains a serious problem for society in the Lao PDR. Drug abuse contributes to misery, violence, and crime. It is a problem that affects not only the drug users but also their families and communities. Amphetamine Type Stimulants abuse has overtaken opium as the main threat to health. Previous years have seen significant increases in seizures of methamphetamine in the Lao PDR and increasing numbers of youth seeking treatment. Residential based treatment has been the main approach in the Lao PDR. Recently the Government of the Lao PDR has commenced piloting of community based approaches to address this serious problem.

Together with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Law Enforcement and Narcotics Affairs of the U.S. Embassy , the Lao National Commission for Drug Control and Supervision (LCDC), Ministry of Health  and  the Vientiane Capital Committee for Drug Control conducted a drug counseling training from 11 th to 14 th September  2012.

The workshop aims toprovide drug counseling training to some 44 rehabilitation workers. Seven  from Savannkhet province, Four from Champasack province and 33 participants are from the 9 districts of Vientiane Capital, which include Moung Pak Ngeum,  Moung NaXaiThong, Moung Sang Thong, Moung Xaythani, Moung Sisatthnak, Moung Sikhottabong, Moung Chanthaboury, Moung Xaysatha, Moung Hatxaiphong.  The trainees will gain knowledge and skills on drug counseling techniques that will enable them to pilot community based drug counseling services.

The cooperation between the LCDC, MOH, UNODC, U.S. Embassy and the concerned authorities to strengthen drug counseling skills is an important initiative to address the drug abuse problem in the Lao PDR. Research studies suggest that 10% of methamphetamine users progress to dependency and/or experience significant problems. Thus it would be important to prevent the transition of the majority of users to more regular or more harmful ways of using.

Mr. Kou Chansina Acting Chairman of the LCDC, Mr. Leik Boonwaat UNODC Deputy Regional Representative and Representative of the Lao PDR, Mr. Samanxay SouvannaKheuangKeo Head of the Vientiane Capital Committee for Drug Control, Mr. Lacy Wright Director of the Law Enforcement and Narcotics Section of the U.S. Embassy and Dr.Vannareth Thammavongsa   Director of the Drug treatment and Mental health Division opened the training. They also visited a pilot community based drug counseling service that is providing counseling as well as peer outreach services to youth in Vientiane.