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Psychotherapy Helps Addicts in Shanghai
Shanghai Rehabilitation Institutes say that the increased use of psychological therapy is proving helpful in curing local drug users of their addictions.

The therapy is being used along side medical treatment and education at three institutes in the city where drug users are sent by local courts for first and second offenses.

In 1999, the Shanghai Drug Rehabilitation Institute did a survey of residents after they had left the program two years ago and found that only 10 percent of them had given up drugs. A similar survey last year, however, found that more than 40 percent of addicts who had been out of the program for two years had quitted drugs.

The success is due to the use of psychological therapy tailored to each user's personal needs, explained Xia Chuangeng, the institute's director.

The institute currently has 2,500 residents or 'students' as they are called inside, most of who are unemployed and have little education. Many don't want to be in the institute, claiming that their drug use doesn't hurt anyone but themselves.

Changing that attitude and teaching the 'students' that they can change their lives is the key to keeping them off drugs for good, Xia said Monday.

"I planned to jump off the fourth floor last May when I arrived here, as my family refused to visit me. I totally lost hope for myself," said Li Qunsheng, a 49-year-old student at the facility. "Officials here talked with me and gave me encouragement. They also asked my family to visit me. I am better now and have decided to get off drugs and return my life to normal."

The Shanghai Woman's Rehabilitation Institute has set up a special room for female drug addicts to relieve their stress and frustrations.

"Addicts can strike a punching bag, scream and tear paper in the room. After that, we provide soothing music or talk with them," said Song Bing, vice director of the institute.

The Compulsive Rehabilitation Institute run by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau is also using psychological therapy to treat drug addicts.

"Mental problems might be the biggest obstacle for addicts to get rid of drugs after leaving the rehabilitation facility," said Zhu Hongliang, director of the institute. "As a result, we set up a tracing system under cooperation with police, neighborhood committees and the addict's family to help them avoid taking drugs again."

Currently, there are about 28,000 registered drug addicts in Shanghai, and may be more unknown addicts.

(eastday.com June 24, 2003)

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