Shanghai Opens 1st Private Drug Rehab

SHANGHAI: The city's first private voluntary rehabilitation center for drug addicts opened yesterday. Both Western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine are used to help addicts get rid of their addiction.

The Daying Voluntary Rehabilitation Center, which occupies a 1.73-hectare site within a resort area in Qingpu District, was built with the first batch of investment of 1 million yuan (US$120,000). It can hospitalize 50 people.

"Six people have come to the center for abstinence and recovery," said Qian Yixian, director of the medical treatment department of the center.

Before the inauguration of the center, Shanghai had three facilities run by the local government to help addicts abstain, one voluntary and the other two mandatory institutions.

In recent years, the number of drug addicts has increased sharply. Shanghai official sources said the city had about 12,000 drug addicts in 2000, up 40 per cent from the previous year.

"The preparation work for the center began three years ago," Qian said, "because at that time, we had found that drug-taking had gradually increased, and many drug abusers want to find a place for abstinence."

The establishment of voluntary rehabilitation centers for addicts has already become a universal practice in other countries. As opposed to mandatory centers, drug addicts are given more freedom in the voluntary centers.

"They can make their own decisions about coming or leaving and no one will force them to do anything," he said. Although they take drugs, they are considered patients in the center, and are treated equally by staff members as long as they co-operate with the doctors.

A maximum of three people share one room. Those seeking recovery must first undergo a detoxification period lasting anywhere from 10 days to 15 days to help with drug withdrawal. Then comes to the recovery phase, which lasts several months or longer, depending on the patients' decision.

Charges range from 3,000 yuan (US$361) to 5,000 (US$602) for the first fortnight and about 3,600 yuan (US$434) per month on average during the recovery period, Qian said.

Both traditional Chinese medicine and Western medicine are used to treat patients at the center and acupuncture is offered for further recovery. Moreover, music is introduced as a therapeutic treatment. The music cure lasts an hour, and patients are allowed to dance and sing along with the music, said Qian.

The center was designed with the capacity to hospitalize 200 drug addicts and further investment will focus on completing auxiliary functions and services.

"More facilities for exercises will be added," he said. As the location is close to some tourist destinations, trips away from the center will also be organized.

( China Daily October 30, 2001)

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