Workers at an art exhibition by Association of Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers of Macau (ARTM).
Participants of the Hold on 2 Hope programme of ARTM. © ARTM archive.
The theme of World Drug Day 2023 is “People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention.” To commemorate the day, UNODC is highlighting its work on drug prevention and treatment around the world.
Macau (China), 28 June 2023 - Koi needed help.
He had been using drugs for years and couldn’t stop, not even when he first entered Associacao de Reabilitacao de Toxicodependentes de Macau (ARTM), a treatment and rehabilitation center in Macau, China, at his family’s behest.
He left without completing the program. “My heart was still out there with the drugs.”
“I relapsed a week after I left,” he confessed, only now “it was more hidden than before.”
For the next “seven to eight years”, Koi was trapped in a cycle of swearing off drugs before relapsing again and again. Finally, he returned to ARTM, hopeful that this time would be different.
“I was determined to complete the road to recovery,” he said.
ARTM is a civil society organization offering voluntary, evidence-based prevention, treatment and harm reduction services to affected communities in Macau, China. Civil society organizations (CSOs) play a vital role in tackling drug related issues, including by combating stigma and delivering essential services to affected communities.
ARTM belongs to the Asia-Pacific Civil Society Working Group on Drugs, supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). Convened by the Vienna NGO Committee on Drugs (VNGOC), the Working Group aims to strengthen civil society action on drug related matters and the implementation of joint international commitments in the Asia-Pacific region.
ARTM was itself founded by a former user of drugs, Augusto Nogueira, whose experience helps the organization provide compassionate and inclusive rehabilitation. Augusto says that his main struggle when he was using drugs was not being able to identify a solution for his problem.
“My addiction was stronger than my will to stop using.”
After undergoing his own challenging rehabilitation process, Augusto had ideas on how to professionalize the existing prevention and treatment activities in Macau. With the goal of providing evidence-based, personalized approaches to drug treatment and rehabilitation services, he founded ARTM in 2000.
ARTM also works to bring the voices of civil society to the international stage, including by presenting civil society recommendations on how best to implement drug policies at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs.
At the center, Koi began to grow new interests, like painting, sports, and playing music.
He even joined ATRM’s Hold on to Hope (H2H) project, where the staff guide center members on how to operate a café. “It helps us prepare for returning to society,” Koi said.
One year later, Koi received a ‘graduation’ certificate from ARTM. He has now been working with ARTM for two years to help other users of drugs “help themselves.”
“I am very grateful for giving myself a chance to be reborn.”