Over 110 heroin addicts are rebuilding their lives with methadone in southwest China's Yunnan Province, bordering the notorious "Golden Triangle."
In Ruili, a city on Yunnan's southwest boundary with Myanmar, these drug addicts take the methadone therapy drops, a synthesized narcotic, daily at a local methadone clinic that opened last June. They take a prescribed dose under doctors' supervision and must drink the dose in the clinic.
China has set up 20 methadone clinics nationwide, seven of them in Yunnan.
Dr Yang Guangwen said the methadone program runs quite well and more addicts are entering the program, spreading the word and encouraging others.
Government regulations stipulate that only drug users who have been discharged from official detoxification centers can qualify for the methadone program.
Taking methadone helps depress addicts' craving for heroin. It avoids 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 lives, instead of feeling sleepy all day after taking heroin.
The clinic does urine tests every 15 or 20 days and third-time violators go back for detoxification.
As early as 1989, Ruili spotted 146 cases of HIV infections among drug addicts.
(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2005)