A ‘halfway house’ operated by the National Drug Agency (NDA) for recovering drug addicts was opened in Hulhumalé yesterday. Recovering addicts will spend three months at the halfway house studying and learning work skills.
The halfway house was funded out of the government budget with assistance from an Italian organisation called Caritas Italiana.
The foundation stone for the halfway house was laid in July 2011.
Speaking at yesterday’s ceremony, home minister Umar Naseer said providing rehabilitation for drug users was a high priority for the current administration.
He noted that drug addicts often relapse after undergoing treatment at rehabilitation centres. The halfway house will play an important role in reintegrating addicts back to society, he said.
Some 17 recovering addicts are currently residing in the new halfway house.
A national drug use survey published in 2012 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that 48 percent of drug users in the Maldives feel they are neglected and perceived as outcasts by the local community.
The stigmatisation of drug addicts leads to the creation of a cycle of addiction with recovering addicts relapsing back into drug abuse as an escape from perceived ‘disgrace’ they have brought upon themselves and their families.
The UNODC survey found that there were 7,496 drug users in the Maldives between the age of 15 and 64 in the Maldives and that 48 percent of drug users in the capital Malé were between the ages of 15 and 19 years.