Digital Journal, Mary Keshishian

Phnom Penh - Cambodia has opened the country’s first methadone-treatment programs/centers in September 2011, in approach to help heroine users. The methadone program will be strictly voluntary.

Methadone is a synthetic opioid used to treat addiction to certain opioids, such as heroine. It is legal in many parts of the world for medicinal purposes.

Two organizations which run outreach programs for drug users and will identify candidates for treatment. If they’re willing, they will be taken to the clinic for an assessment based on international standards. While the facility is supported by the WHO, it is run by the Ministry of Health inside a public hospital, says BBC News.

Heroine addiction is a very large problem in Cambodia, as some people say is more of a social issue than health issue. Some residents have complained of being held against their will – and forced to take experimental herbal remedies. In government drug detention centers, people in Cambodia are abused to refrain from the habit. It is considered rightful to run drug detention centers in Cambodia that included electric shocks, beatings, rapes, forced labor and forced donations of blood.

This new program seems to be the only one without the ‘torture’. Among other health issues, about 170,000 Cambodians live with HIV/AIDS and more than 60,000 children are orphaned by the disease. Impoverished Cambodia has become a popular trafficking point for narcotics, particularly methamphetamine and heroin, after neighboring Thailand toughened its war on drugs.

An estimated 36 per cent of Cambodia’s 14.2 million people live below the poverty line and about 85 per cent of these live in rural areas.

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