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Group approach helps city addicts

HELPING former drug addicts develop friends and hobbies, in addition to providing physical and psychological treatment, is important in assisting them return to the society, delegates heard during visits to Shanghai's drug rehabilitation clinics yesterday.

Delegates from 17 countries were completing a three-day meeting commemorating the start of international efforts to curb the spread of drugs began in Shanghai in 1909 at a meeting to discuss the Chinese opium epidemic.

Some of today's delegates will gather again for a ministerial-level meeting in Vienna on March 11 and 12 to assess the effectiveness of the United Nations drug control measures.

At a seal cutting society in Xuhui District, 12 former drug abusers said they had fallen in love with the art.

"Seal cutting is a low-cost and practical art, and moreover, it helps people concentrate their minds and build a positive mental attitude," said social worker Chen Shijia. "One of our members spends at least five hours on seal cutting a day."

Of the 12, one was making a living from seal cutting, and five others had landed jobs. No one in the society had relapsed, Chen said.

At another group under Shanghai Ziqiang Social Services, a local NGO with more than 600 social workers, eight of 10 members hadn't relapsed.

"The recovering addicts have all improved relations with their families which had broken down because of their addiction," said social worker Ye Xiong, who is also a former drug addict.

"A woman with an 11-year history of drug addiction attended our group five years ago, and she is still drug-free.

"She got married to a German she met when she joined us, and they live a happy life now," Ye added.


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