The Thai Ministry of Defence has declared that 52 army bases will house Rakjai centers, which are drug rehab facilities for narcotic addicts.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin announced on January 4 a government policy to use military facilities to treat and stabilize drug addicts. A ministry spokesperson stated that the plan is a response to this policy.
In the beginning, 4,414 drug addicts (85 districts across 30 provinces) will receive assistance from the centers. They are considered individuals of critical concern who require urgent rehabilitation beyond the confines of their communities.
Rear Adm Thanitpong stated that separating them from their communities would aid in reducing violence and fostering a sense of security among the populace.
Tuesday’s announcement was made subsequent to a cabinet meeting. Substance rehabilitation programs at the centers will last for 60, 90, or 120 days.
The Office of the Narcotics Control Board and the Ministry of Public Health will also assist the centers with patient screening, according to the spokesperson. In the future, the military will establish additional drug rehab centers, he added.
Thailand Takes harm reduction drug rehab approach
The Narcotics Act B.E. 2564, enacted in November of last year, designates drug abusers as “patients” who are exempt from punishment on the condition that they enroll in a complimentary rehabilitation program. Irrespective of the quantity of drugs a suspect is apprehended with, they will be offered treatment provided they can demonstrate that the substances are not intended for sale.
“Only those who decline treatment will face prosecution,” according to Kosonlavat Intujunyong, deputy director general of the Attorney General’s Office. Thailand ranks among the nations with the greatest recidivism rates for drug-related offenses, a consequence of decades of stringent narcotics legislation.
Additionally, under the new legislation, drug suspects who are willing to abstain from narcotics and enter rehabilitation will be exempt from having a criminal record. They will be subject to restrictions such as a reporting schedule, community surveillance, or a travel ban at most.
In reality, individuals who abuse drugs will have the capacity to lead a relatively ordinary existence, with the sole obligation being the continuation of their rehabilitation.
Kosonlavat stated, “Many recent crimes could have been averted if the addicts had been in rehabilitation.” “Families of drug addicts must assist one another; all of them should enroll in the treatment program.”
Increasing drug rehab programs
Dr. Warot Chotipittayasunon, a spokesman for the Mental Health Department, stated that in the event that substance abusers lack the self-control to enroll in treatment programs, family members should intervene.
“Contact any hospital by phone.” “If no drug treatment programs are available, the staff will be able to suggest the closest facility that is operational,” he elaborated.
It was highly probable, according to Warot, that addicts could overcome their addictions through these treatment programs. However, he cautioned that should they encounter the same environment with the same old difficulties again, they might revert to their previous behavior.
“Therefore, they also require the support of others,” he explained.
All narcotics alter mental perception, and prolonged use can cause brain injury, he continued. He stated that the more severe the damage, the more difficult it is to surrender and return to one’s daily existence.
Based on data from April 8th, authorities apprehended 144,110 individuals in connection with drug-related offenses during the preceding half-year. During the same time period, police also seized 484 kilograms of heroin, 8,691 kilograms of crystal methamphetamine, and 272 million methamphetamine tablets.
Regrettably, from 2020 to 2021, the number of substance abusers undergoing treatment decreased from 210,000 to 150,000. Even with the implementation of the new legislation, the number remained stagnant at 74,000 from October of last year to June of this year. Most rehabilitation patients are in their twenties.