The Chinese government is vigorously promoting methadone replacement therapy to drug addicts in a bid to curb the spread of AIDS and hepatitis caused by injections.
All together 101 methadone clinics have been set up in the country and the number will increase to 305 by the end of the year.
Methadone, a synthesized narcotic which is far less noxious than morphine hydrochloride, is widely used internationally as a substitution drug to help addicts break their addiction.
In China's methadone clinics, a cup of methadone drink that helps addicts slake their thirst for drugs only costs 10 yuan. Methadone weans addicts off drug injections, helping stop the spread of AIDS and other contagious diseases.
Those undergoing methadone replacement therapy are required to take regular urine tests. The results are recorded in a national database run by police authorities. According to the notice recently issued by the Ministry of Public Security, those who persist in using drugs will be sent to institutions for compulsory drug abstinence.
"Methadone replacement therapy does more than just prevent infectious diseases, such as AIDS and hepatitis. It helps addicts rebuild family relations and will also reduce the number of drug smuggling cases," said Yao Zhibin, deputy director of Guangdong Province's Health Bureau.
(Xinhua News Agency August 9, 2006)