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Vietnam and Substance Abusers

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Vietnam and Substance Abusers

iStock_000018642842XSmall.jpgIn an earlier post I wrote about alcohol abuse in England and what the English government is doing to try and combat it.  England seems truly concerned about its problem.  Another country –Vietnam — made the news in September, in an article about how that country handles substance abuse. Vietnam’s approach can only be classified as horrifying. 

This country’s program, as the government describes it, doesn’t sound horrific on the surface. Addicts are given “labor therapy” in which they learn skills — basket weaving, processing cashew nuts, and sewing, for example. But it’s actually forced labor. 

The Human Rights Watch organization said that the substance abusers are paid little or nothing, beaten, given electric shocks, and sent to solitary confinement. And sadly, some of the items they make are exported to the U.S. Some jacket liners actually went to Columbia Sportswear, through one of its subcontractors. Columbia fired the company on learning this, and gave the pieces to charity. Bravo, Columbia.

In Vietnam, alcohol treatment is “re-education”, which oppressive and repressive regimes are famous for. One former detainee said that the only rehabilitation he and others got was being made to march and chant “Try your best to quit drugs!” The relapse rate is 89%. You wonder how any of these substance abusers recover.

These “addiction centers” are given tax-exempt status, but they’re actually profit centers that operate under a “special administrative system.” The astounding facts just go on and on. 

How can people have so little regard for human life? We’re not perfect in this country; it’s not as if Americans don’t commit abuses. Whereever they occur, it’s just not right. And we may have more progress to make when it comes to legislation, funding for addiction treatment and changing attitudes toward addiction, but …. that article was hard to swallow.



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