SWO Tasked With Rehab Services of Drug Abusers

SWO Tasked With Rehab Services of Drug AbusersSWO Tasked With Rehab Services of Drug Abusers

Treatment and rehabilitation services for substance abusers have now been assigned to the State Welfare Organization (SWO) following a revision in Article 15 of the Anti-Narcotics Law.   

“The Iran Drug Control Headquarters (IDCH) will no longer oversee treatment and rehab services and the SWO will take over the tasks,” said Interior Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli who is also secretary general of Iran Drug Control Headquarters, on the sidelines of a meeting of the IDCH Harm Reduction Committee on Monday.

The session was held following a directive by the Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei in April this year to put addiction among the top five social maladies to be dealt with in the sixth economic, social and cultural development plan (2016-2021).

The Leader has called for stricter and more integrated and effective measures in fighting the scourge and all pertinent organizations were given six months to prepare a report on how they would go about the tasks.

The IDCH meeting was attended by ministers and representatives from various executive bodies to review the Anti-Narcotics Law and reassign tasks to the relevant organizations for better and more efficacious performance, IRNA reported.

While the IDCH was put in charge of policy making, coordination and supervision, the SWO would handle the therapeutic aspects.

With the revision in Article 15 of the law, the Labor Ministry’s social welfare arm is obliged to take charge of treatment-related affairs in substance abuse.  “The article states that drug addiction is a crime. Nevertheless, all addicts are permitted to go to legal centers designated by the Health Ministry and use such centers for treatment and rehabilitation,” Fazli stressed.

  Major Drug Path

Drug abuse is one of the main social maladies in Iran and according to official reports there are 1.5-2 million addicts in the country.

Iran lies directly on the path of the world’s largest flow of heroin. Finished heroin, partially refined heroin in the form of morphine or raw opium leaves neighboring Afghanistan and enters Iran – an estimated 140 tons annually. Only about 23% of it is seized each year or 32 tons. Drug traffickers are said to be pocketing $450-600 million every year from the illicit trade. These astronomical profits create brutality and viciousness that have resulted in the deaths of thousands of Iranian border guards over the last 30 years, reports.

A 2015 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates the worth of heroin and opium trafficked from Afghanistan to western Europe at $28 billion annually.

Iran is a major destination for drugs as well as a transit route. Iranian authorities seize about 30% of the estimated 155 tons of heroin and opium entering Iran each year that is largely destined for the western world, the report said.

  No Prosecution During Rehab

The minister made mention of Note 1 of the article which says addicts are protected from prosecution of this crime in the period of treatment and rehab.

“As per Note 2, the costs of diagnosis, treatment, medicines and rehabilitation shall be paid by addicts to the relevant units based on approved tariffs and the government will annually finance the treatment costs for addicts who can’t afford to pay,” but want to go clean, said Fazli. Note 3 obliges the government to take necessary steps to revive and establish rehabilitation camps for drug addicts.

As per Article 16, addicts mentioned in Articles 4 and 8 shall be sentenced to a fine in the amount of one to five million rials ($300-1,500) in cash with up to 30 lashes based on the case. In the event of recidivism of the crime among employees in the service of the government or government affiliated bodies, he or she shall be sentenced, in addition to fine and lashes and be permanently deprived of any government job.