WHEN POLICE PROCLAIM TREATMENT AS THE KEY TO THEIR ANTI-DRUGS STRATEGY, WATCH OUT!
Iran has in recent years been a splendid model of response to opiate addiction for other countries. It has had an avowed commitment to massive treatment expansion, with primary reliance on methadone maintenance - in the community and in prison. Treatment has been coupled with harm reduction measures such as needle and syringe exchange and condom distribution, as well as continued focus on lessening the flow of opiates across its porous borders.
Unfortunately, a report on 13 August by BBC Monitoring International quotes the head of the anti-narcotics police force as saying, "All injecting addicts will receive treatment by year-end ... even mandatory treatment." To achieve this goal the Police will conduct a "roundup of the most dangerous drug addicts" in the country.
"Mandatory treatment" is an oxymoron. One can readily imagine what action the Police will take when a "patient" fails to respond as well as they would like, and shows signs of the condition being "treated". It is particularly tragic to note that this approach may well prove to be the death knell for the successful voluntary services offered on a rapidly expanding basis to date.