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Faris Ahmad Al Hammadi speaks to residents during the campaign launched at Mirdif City Centre in Dubai. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: Officials on Wednesday urged families of drug addicts to come forward to get them treated without fear of any criminal proceedings being initiated against them.

The call was made at a nationwide campaign to mark the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, launched at the Mirdif City Centre by the Ministry of Health and Prevention in collaboration with Dubai Police, Hemaya International Centre and Erada Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation.

Speaking through Gulf News, Colonel Abdulla Hassan Matar Al Khayat, Director of Hemaya International Centre, told families: “Don’t be afraid to come to us. And do not be in denial. If your child has a drug problem, get it treated. We are here to help you.”

He assured drug addicts that if they voluntarily present themselves to the authorities requesting treatment, they will not be punished.

“Article 43 of the Federal Law No. 14 clearly provides this protection,” he said, adding that it is only when addicts are found trafficking or consuming drugs or get involved in criminal activities that they are liable.

He said parents must be more watchful of their children, their habits and the friends they keep, to ensure they do not stray.

Rise in cases

Officials at the Erada Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation said around 50-60 cases come to them as inpatients every month, with an additional 30-40 being treated as outpatients, as against five-10 cases three years ago.

50

Inpatients are treated by Erada Centre for Treatment and Rehab every month

Faris Ahmad Al Hammadi, Senior Manager (Community Research) at the centre, said, “The main reason for this sharp increase is the rising awareness about the fact that drug addiction needs to be treated, not punished, as it is a disease. Having said that, we know there are many more people out there whose lives are ruined and who are lost. But they must know the problem can be addressed. Parents must take responsibility and come to us with their children voluntarily.”

Ahmad Al Humidi, Chief Nursing Officer at Erada, said 58 per cent of those who have received treatment at the centre are aged between 18 and 29 years of age.

“The main kinds of addiction include alcohol, opioids like morphine and heroin and stimulants.”

The officials said the centre has treated 1,200 patients in all in the past three years.

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An International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, held under the theme “Your Life…. Your Decision” organised by the ministry’s hospital sector, in collaboration with Dubai Police, Erada Center and Hemaya Centre at Mirdif City Centre, Dubai. 26th June 2019. Photo: Ahmed Ramzan/ Gulf News

The average time that a patient spends with the centre is one month as an inpatient and two months as an outpatient.

He said, “Each case is unique and the treatment that is provided is tailored to meet their requirements.”

At the Al Amal Psychiatric Hospital kiosk, specialist psychiatrist in addiction treatment services Dr Sawsan Hassan said the facility in addition to its inpatient services, also has outpatient clinics for males twice a week and for adolescents and female once a week.

58%

of Erada’s cases are in the age group of 18-29

“We want to raise awareness about the need to get treatment and rehabilitation at the earliest,” she added.

Federal Law No. 14 of 1995 on the Countermeasures against

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic SubstancesDUBAI

Article 43

No criminal proceedings shall be instituted against any abuser of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances who voluntarily presents himself either to the Addiction Treatment Unit or to the Public Prosecution, requesting treatment. The duration of treatment and rehabilitation may not extend three years. The provision of this article, however, shall not apply to anyone who possessed a narcotic drug which he did not hand over to the unit or the Public Prosecution when he presented himself for treatment.

How to protect your kids from drug hazards

• Be a role model for your children

• Encourage them to practice sports, healthy activities

• Help them develop self confidence

• Spend time with them\

• Know where they go, what they do

• Know who they are friends with

• Get them to share their problems with you

• Lay down the rules with clear dos and don’ts