KUALA LUMPUR: Drug addicts forced to go for treatment have higher chances of relapsing into their old habit, a recent study shows.
Centre of Excellence for Research in Aids (CERiA)’s Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said Cure and Care participants had an 84% decreased chance of relapse compared to those admitted into drug rehabilitation centres - either by force or compelled by a court order.
The study by Universiti Malaya - which has yet to be published as it is undergoing a journal review process - compares compulsory detention to voluntary methadone therapy for opiate-dependent persons in Malaysia.
The 300 sample size was divided into two groups - a batch of 150 who came to the Cure and Care service centre (CCSC) voluntarily and another 150 admitted into national drug rehabilitation centres (Puspen) involuntarily.
“We followed up with the group from Puspen a year after they left the rehabilitation centre.
"For the other group, we followed them since the day they first used methadone treatment (at CCSC) and we followed up with them for a year,” she told reporters after a briefing session with the National Anti-Drugs Agency and the Youth and Sports Ministry here Tuesday.
The study found that Puspen participants relapsed 31 days after release compared to 352 days for those receiving voluntary treatment.
“So, you can see that the difference is very, very big. This is the first time that anyone has ever compared the two treatments head-to-head,” she said.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who sat in the briefing, said 75% of recorded drug addicts in 2014 were those below age 40.
“Drug addiction is a disease. We should not focus on criminal punishment for the addicts but we need to focus on the healthcare given at CCSC and other drug rehabilitation centres.
“In a recent Cabinet meeting, we spoke about initiatives to re-look into the National Anti-Drug policy so that the methods of harm reduction, rehabilitation, cure and care would be given its due place.
“I believe a presentation will be done before the National Social Council and later before the Cabinet for approval,” he added.