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Russian drug-free programs bring results — official

October 08, 12:04 UTC+3 UN

President of Russia’s National Antidrug Union noted that programs unite about 1,000 people, and 35% of them become clean

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President of Russia’s National Antidrug Union Nikita Lushnikov

President of Russia’s National Antidrug Union Nikita Lushnikov

© Yuri Mashkov/TASS

UN, October 8. /TASS/. Russian drug-free programs, where the addicts refuse completely from drugs, bring results and are a more effective alternative to substitution therapy, President of Russia’s National Antidrug Union [NADU] Nikita Lushnikov said in an interview with TASS.

Russia’s National Antidrug Union [NADU] on Friday familiarized the UN member-states with the programs for social rehabilitation of drug addicts offered as alternatives to the highly controversial substitution therapy. The presentation on the sidelines of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly was organized with assistance from the Russian mission at the UN.

According to the official, about 14,000 have participated in the drug-free programs already.

"More than five thousand are sober now," he said. "This is great success. Our camps unite more than 1,500 three times a year, and representatives of many organizations are visiting the camps - like UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS), UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) - they can see our work."

NADU organized three camps a year - near Moscow in January, in Sochi in June and in Crimea in August. About 1,000 people are on the drug-free programs permanently, and 35% of them become clean. The Union tries to follow-up the former patients, though do not make the communication obligatory, and some of the cured prefer to continue communication, he said.

The approach to treating the drug addicts based on the substitution therapy methods has been in the spotlights of international forums on fighting with drug addiction in recent years. Its main principle is to administer the drugs containing some amounts of opiates to the people who are high up on heavy drugs, for instance, heroin.

In most cases, the physicians administer Methadone, a heavy-duty synthetic drug. He called substitution therapy a pharmaceutical coffin where the drug addicts should be rescued from.

"This can help only for some time but in the future a person must discard Methadone to rid himself or herself of addiction," he said.

NADU’s president told TASS after the presentation the audience met the programs offered by Russia with interest and understanding. For instance, the U.S. representative proposed to combine substitution therapy and drug-free programs envisioning an unconditional rejection of drugs. "They are prepared to use our experience in America and to introduce drug-free programs," Lushnikov said.

He also called attention to the fact the exchange of opinions between the supporters of substitution therapies and drug-free rehabilitation programs had for the first time ever had the form of dialogue rather than bitter argument.

The Russian drug-free program has caused interest also from Ukraine, which uses substitutional therapy now, and from Belarus. NADU is ready "to assist all, regardless of nationality, confession or whatever other criteria," the Russian official said.

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