Providing not only detoxification treatment, but also behavior shaping, psychological rehabilitation and vocational training, Sunflower Community is labeled Beijing's first Therapeutic Community (TC), a new model for drug rehabilitation treatment.
Located at the southern suburbs of the capital city, the community currently hosts 28 addicts willing to shake off the effect of drugs in their life and minds.
"We call ourselves drug abusers community residents here," said Wang Zhiqiang, a therapist. "Accompanied by a set of therapeutic tools, all the residents live together, mingle with each other, share each's experience, and work together to break away from the strong addiction."
According to Wang, all the new arrivals start on the cleaning team on a hierarchical working structure. Good performance, upbeat spirit and a positive attitude to help others will lead them to the higher level -- the catering team, the administration team and eventually the stimulation team.
The catering team is in charge of the food service and the administration team the community paperwork and public property maintenance, while the stimulation team, the highest in the community, takes charge of security issues of addicts, offering encouragement and punishment to community members.
"The residents manage their own affairs here, which trains them to become more capable of dealing with problems," said Wang. "The promotion from one team to a higher team grants more privileges, such as more phone calls, family member visits and participation in the community management. Violators may be downgraded to a lower team."
Xiao Deng, a 26-year-old girl with eight years of drug-taking history, has received treatment in many drug rehab centers. "In the drug rehab centers where I have been before, addicts were mostly left alone in the room," said Deng. "We could do nothing but watch TV and we were sent home right after the detox."
But in Sunflower Community, Xiao Deng is now leader of the stimulation team. Through six-month-long participation in various activities, she has learned to "say no" to drugs and become more immune to temptation.
Humanistic care is the element widely adopted in the practice of Chinese rehab centers now.
Earlier this month, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao paid an unprecedented visit to the Wuhan Drug Abstaining Center in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei Province.
"The addicts have violated the law, but they are victims themselves," said Wen to the staff there, advising them to treat the addicts as patients and take care of them with humanism.
Statistics from the Public Security Ministry showed that China has set up 583 compulsory drug rehabilitation centers, 165 drug-rehabilitation-through-labor institutions, and 247 voluntary drug rehabilitation centers.
The country's accumulated registered number of drug addicts totaled 1.05 million by the end of 2003, including those that had gone clean, living in almost 80 percent of Chinese cities and counties.
In China, the compulsory drug rehab method still rules. When a drug abuser is found, he is sent to the compulsory drug rehabilitation center set up by local governments. If he is found to use drugs a second time, he will be sent to the drug-rehabilitation-through-labor institution.
But humanistic care in drug abstaining practice is evolving. The TC model was brought into China from the United States in 1998,with the founding of the Yunnan Daytop Village. The method was applied by Beijing last year, offering service to drug addicts willing to abandon the bad habit.
Even in China's compulsory rehab centers, cultural and sports activities, as well as vocational training, were arranged to addicts. All these aimed to improve their physique and skills for a clean life in the future.
The Kunming Drug Abstaining Center, located in southwest China's Yunnan Province, is Asia's biggest drug abstaining center. With no iron bars, electricity wire, or high walls, the center is instead created a more humane environment for addicts.
Holding that the family support is better to help the addicts stay clean, the center staff sought contacts with their family members and arrange family visits.
"People can change," said Cui Xinhua, a doctor with Beijing Ankang Hospital's Drug Abstaining Center. Sunflower Community adopts a combination of psychological, behaviorist and sociologist methods with proper and responsible care for the addicts. All these can lead to "the rekindling of their hope for life," as Cui put it.
(Xinhua News Agency June 26, 2004)