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Methadone Helps Drug Addicts Rebuild Life

Over 110 drug addicts are working to rebuild their lives in southwest China's Yunnan Province, a region that borders the notorious "Golden Triangle" -- one of the world's largest drug production bases -- by turning to methadone.

In Ruili, a city on Yunnan's southwest front with Myanmar, these drug addicts are permitted to take the therapy drops daily at a local methadone clinic that opened last June, and take a prescribed dose of methadone under doctor supervision.

To ensure they actually drink methadone, drug addicts are neither allowed to take more than the prescribed dose nor take thepotion out of the clinic.

Doctor Yang Guangwen of the clinic said that the methadone program runs quite well, and there have been more drug users coming for the therapy since the clinic's opening.

Most patients come on a regular basis for the therapy and back home they publicize the benefits of methadone substitution among their peers, said Yang, who has met a handsome number of people consulting about or applying for the therapy everyday.

Government regulations stipulate that only drug users who have been discharged from official detoxification centers can qualify for the methadone program.

Taking methadone -- a synthesized narcotic -- helps depress addicts' drug desire and avoid the use of hypodermic needles that can spread AIDS and other blood-transmitted diseases.

Moreover, those who take methadone are able to work and return to normal life instead of looking sleepy all day after taking heroin.

According to Yang, some methadone takers slip back to heroin from time to time. To prevent this, the clinic does urinary tests every 15 or 20 days among the methadone takers. Violators lose their qualification and are sent to detoxification centers if found using drugs for a third time.

As early as 1989, Ruili spotted 146 cases of HIV infections among drug addicts, the first in the country.

China has set up 20 methadone clinics throughout the country, seven of which are in Yunnan.

(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2005)

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