What you need to know
As President Tsai vows to combat drugs by helping addicts quit the habit, an expert says that the nation's drug rehabilitation system needs to be revamped.
In a speech at the 2016 National Anti-Drug Conference Symposium on June 3, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) vowed to prioritize anti-drug efforts, adding that punishing drug addicts cannot solve drug abuse problems and that the government should do more to help drug addicts quit.
Tsai, who was inaugurated on May 20, also said that the government should integrate resources from central and local governments to fight drug-related problems. According to an expert on the subject, the government will also have to give serious thought to how it intends to help people quit.
Rehabilitating drug rehabilitation
Summer Tan (譚熺賢), director of the New Life Association for Promotion of Education, told The News Lens International that the government's current drug rehabilitation system doesn't work. At all. Involved in the anti-drug campaign for the past 13 years and the recipient of an award in 2012 for his contributions, Tan says the current system only makes drug addiction worse, as the law requires addicts to take various types of psychiatric medicine.
Tan says that the current law defines drug addicts as chronic psychotic patients, who are obligated to receive medical treatment as part of their rehabilitation. However, he says that taking psychiatric medicine to address drug addiction is like drinking wine to cure an addiction to whisky. According to his experience, those who are required to take this method are unable to ever fully quit their addiciton.
A drug addict for 16 years, Tan almost gave up hope of quitting drugs before he checked into the Narconon Drug Rehabilitation Center in Hualien. After completing a series of courses at the center, Tan was fully clean and even healthier than before he started doing drugs.
"If the Tsai government really wants to fight drugs, it should consult organizations that have been devoted to anti-drug campaigns and discard the old medical rehabilitation concepts," he says.
"Anti-drug campaigns should be implemented in schools to nip drug abuse in its bud," Tan says.
Although the government has launched anti-drug campaigns in secondary schools, Tan thinks there is still room for improvement. He says that the slogans and speeches used in traditional anti-drug campaigns are all about the drawbacks of doing drugs. Tan suggests that the government should not always threaten students not to do drugs. It should instead educate the students on the pros and cons of substance abuse, and let them make their own decisions, he says.