When we think about people who use drugs, there is a tendency to refer to drug rehabilitation centers as the solution, and without thinking about the importance of what the person actually needs or wants. Moreover, for women who use drugs, their experiences too often involve stigmatization, marginalization, and violence. Little is known about what happens in the many drug rehabilitation and treatment centers around Asia and whether they are helping or hurting. Conditions in drug rehabilitation centers can be overcrowded and poor, and fail to treat people with the standard of health and human rights that each of us deserve.

This year, twelve United Nations entities have issued a joint statement calling for the closure of compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centers. Amnesty International has also reported torture, sexual violence, and deaths in their report covering prisons and places of detention, including drug rehabilitation centres, on Cambodia.

To shed light on this issue, UNAIDS and the International Drug Policy Consortium launched a podcast series ‘Reality Bytes: On Drugs in Southeast Asia’ to chat with various experts about the real experiences faced with drug treatment and rehabilitation in the region. Tune in to hear stories and voices that are too rarely heard.

Episode 1: On women who use drugs

In this first episode, we talk with Rosma about her experiences going through over 17 different types of drug treatment and rehabilitation programmes in Indonesia.  She bravely opens up about how she started using drugs, struggles with her family, and why she believes it is important to talk about her difficult experiences. Transcript available here.

Episode 2: On understanding community needs

In this second episode, we talk with Thomas Cai about his experience working with people who use drugs in Asia to help provide treatment and other services they need to live a life of dignity. Transcript available here.

Episode 3: On providing community-based treatment and services

In this final episode, we talk with Sam Nugraha, the founder and Executive Director of Rumah Singgah PEKA, a oeer ryb rehabilitation centre in Indonesia. Transcript available here.