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Insight: US Style Rehab in China

In China, a typical drug rehabilitation program is composed of activities geared at social interaction with people going through the same issue. It also entails being reminded of one’s personal responsibility towards leading a cleaner lifestyle. Government-regulated facilities employ harsher techniques in reeducation especially for those who have repeatedly been found guilty of drug use. Manual labor is also part of rehab.

The scenario sounds more like military camp than a rehab facility for drug addicts.

But at the Yunnan Daytop Drug Abuse Treatment and Rehabilitation Center, a different approach to drug addiction treatment is being employed. It is quite different from the usual rehab program characteristic of other facilities in China. The center practices rehab programs that are more like the ones that are being provided in the United States.

The rehab facility is located just outside the Kunning district in the province of Yunnan. Each morning, the patients read out a different slogan. They start off the day reading the center’s mission statement – something that was taken from a drug rehab located in New York.

“I am here because there is no refuge. Until I confront myself in the eyes and hearts of others, I am running.”

The rehab facility uses a different approach that is exclusive to only a few centers in this country. Treatment is composed of group counseling that offers the feeling of having a family to belong to.

Drug abuse is prevalent in China and is mainly driven by the social changes that its citizens had to go through and weather over the years. During the 1940’s the Communist Party was known to have apprehended more than 20 million drug users. After the eighties and the economic changes in the country, the efforts to stop drug trafficking have become more lax contributing to the increased prevalence of addiction.

This interesting US-style drug treatment facility was established by Yang Maobin, current director, through the help of recovering addicts who requested the mode of treatment that it offers. One of his clients was from an affluent family so financing didn’t come as a problem when the center opened in 1998.

According to a director of another drug treatment center in Beijing, the local government seems to appreciate Daytop’s approach to treatment. “Now government agrees that therapeutic drug treatment is effective, and is going to promote it,” the director who refused to be named said.