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Chongqing launches app to help drug addicts recover

By TAN YINGZI and DENG RUI in Chongqing | China Daily | Updated: 2024-04-22 09:06
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China's first app to aid the voluntary rehabilitation of drug addicts was launched in Chongqing recently.

The app, which integrates medical, human and civil affairs resources covering multiple scenarios, could help addicts reintegrate into society, said the Chongqing Drug Rehabilitation Administration, the app's developer.

Through the app, called One-Stop Service for Voluntary Drug Rehabilitation, addicts undergoing treatment and their family members can easily make appointments to access services offered at rehab centers and in their community for professional rehabilitation, home recovery and community assistance.

The app allows addicts being treated in hospital and their family members to see details such as their treatment status, medical examination reports, assessments of the effectiveness of rehabilitation and contact information for medical and psychological assistance in their communities.

It has been included in the municipal government's Yukuaiban service platform.

Chongqing was one of the first places in China to carry out drug rehabilitation work and has been continuously and persistently exploring such work, Zhang Changning, director of the Administration of Drug Addiction Treatment at the Ministry of Justice, said at a launch ceremony for the app on Tuesday.

"The app, which is the first of its kind in the country, sets a good drug rehabilitation example for the nationwide judicial administration system," Zhang said.

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, the country has attached great importance to drug control work. Last year, the Ministry of Justice formulated a strategy that steers drug users toward compulsory or voluntary rehabilitation, supplemented by counseling and community-based drug rehabilitation and recovery. Compulsory drug rehabilitation in an isolated facility is an administrative penalty issued by public security authorities that lasts for two years, but drug users and their families can also opt for voluntary rehabilitation before the public security authorities get involved.

"I hope more people like me will learn about voluntary drug rehabilitation after the launch of this app, so that they can break free from drug addiction and get back to normal life," said a drug addict surnamed Gao who is receiving rehabilitation treatment at the Chongqing Drug Rehabilitation Center in the municipality's Beibei district.

Another addict's father said: "In the past, we had to pay on-site visits to learn about the status of my son, who is currently at the rehab center. Now, we can see his rehab progress and learn about drug prohibition and rehab knowledge via a smartphone. I feel very reassured that he is receiving the right treatment at the center."

As the only public comprehensive drug rehabilitation facility in Chongqing and one of six voluntary drug rehabilitation centers in China supporting the national strategy, the center offers free treatment, accommodation and skills training.

"We are striving to build a topnotch drug rehabilitation center in the country," said Wan Xiaofei, the center's director.

Apart from living and entertainment facilities, the center also houses a specialized drug rehabilitation medical center equipped with departments such as psychiatry and internal medicine, as well as medical professionals, Wan said.

The center has collaborated with the Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine in recent years to come up with an alternative therapy for weaning addicts off methadone, which is used to treat drug addiction but carries a high risk of addiction itself.

"We hope to help minimize the harm to the drug addicts' health, their families and society, but also help the group better integrate into society," Wan said.

A report released by the Ministry of Public Security said there were 1.12 million drug users in China at the end of 2022, down 24.3 percent year-on-year, with the number of former drug users who had remained drug-free for three years having increased continuously for 10 consecutive years.

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