The Taipei City Department of Health on Monday launched a teen drug rehabilitation program that offers full medical subsidies for juveniles addicts.
“Addicted teenagers directed from district courts, schools or social welfare departments are now eligible for a full subsidy for the costs of their drug treatment at Taipei City Hospital’s Songde branch in Xinyi District (信義), a public hospital commissioned by the health department to carry out the program, to treat their addiction,” Medical Affairs Division deputy director Lin Chung-chieh (林仲傑) said.
Citing Ministry of Education figures, Lin said the rehabilitation scheme was started due to a growth in the number of juvenile addicts, which jumped from a reported 815 people in 2008 to 1,810 last year.
According to research, the majority of juvenile addicts start using prohibited drugs after being incited or enticed by friends or classmates, with the most frequent places for first-time drug use being an acquaintance’s home, inside a KTV booth or at a pub, Lin said.
Research has also shown that teenagers use drugs for many reasons, in particular out of curiosity or as an attempt to seek excitement, Lin said, adding that ketamine was the most popular.
Despite the growing number of teen drug-users, most addicts are less severe and only require a three-month rehabilitation, according to doctors, Lin said.
“That is why we set up the program to treat teenagers’ drug problems at an early stage before letting it affect their behavior,” Lin said.
Statistics from the Songde branch showed that of all the drug-addicted juveniles receiving treatment there, only 24 percent of those who test positive for drugs continue to use drugs after one month of treatment, with the number using drugs dropping to 0.04 percent after three months, with all participants testing negative after six months of therapy, Lin said.
“The number suggests that it takes more than one or two treatments for [an addict] to overcome his or her drug habit,” Lin said.
Pan Chun-hung (潘俊宏), director of the addiction science department at Taipei City Hospital’s Songde branch, said teenagers who access outpatient services often need to shoulder the costs of the physical examination themselves, which could average about NT$10,000 if requiring further psychological counseling.
“However, those medical expenses will now be fully subsidized for young people referred from listed agencies,“ Pan said.
Dismissing many parents’ concerns that their addictive children may be “taken away” if seeking assistance, Pan said that those looking for help would not leave behind any judicial records or face arrest.
Pan also reminded parents to keep an eye on peculiar medication and unknown powders at home in addition to their children being scatter-brained or irregular sleeping patterns.
Translated by Stacy Hsu, Staff Writer