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Thursday, March 7, 2013

UN Report on Treatment Conditions Around the World

In the United States drug and alcohol treatment facilities handle addiction as any other medical setting would treat a disease - compassionately and humanly. It wasn’t always that way, alcoholics and addicts used to be treated like they lacked morals and ethics, people who were simply weak. Unfortunately, countries in other parts of the world have not followed western countries in the pursuit of more effective forms of treatment.

A new report from the United Nations found that addiction treatments in some parts of the world are harsh and unhelpful. Some practices are “tantamount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment,” according to the report.

The U.N. report condemns denying patients treatment with methadone or buprenorphine, which occurs in some treatment settings in the United States, Time.com notes. “A particular form of ill-treatment and possibly torture of drug users is the denial of opiate substitution treatment,” the report says, adding this is considered a human rights violation when it occurs in jails and prisons.

The U.N.’s Human Rights Council in Geneva this week heard the report for the first time. In some Asian countries, “Compulsory detention for drug users is common in so-called rehabilitation centers. Sometimes referred to as drug treatment centers or ‘reeducation through labor’ centers or camps, these are institutions commonly run by military or paramilitary, police or security forces, or private companies. Persons who use, or are suspected of using, drugs and who do not voluntarily opt for drug treatment and rehabilitation are confined in such centers and compelled to undergo diverse interventions.”

Medical detoxification is not provided in many countries, forcing patients to undergo painful withdrawals, “administration of unknown or experimental medications, state-sanctioned beatings, caning or whipping, forced labor, sexual abuse and intentional humiliation,” according to the report. Other reported abuses include “flogging therapy,” “bread and water therapy,” and electroshock resulting in seizures. In many of these settings, there are no medical professionals trained to manage drug dependence disorders as medical illnesses.
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