Encouraging results of a progressive new program to treat drug addicts in Colombia’s capital of Bogota have paved the way for its expansion in 2013.
Bogota’s health secretary, Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo, said that the Mobile Drug Treatment Centers (CAMADs) had treated 1,764 drug addicts over the four month trial period, “736 of which were transferred to halfway houses or public hospitals,” while another 68 underwent treatment to control their addiction.
In addition, health professionals working in the CAMADs held 8,496 consultations with patients suffering from dental, medical and psychological problems.
According to a report released yesterday by the Center for Study and Analysis on Coexistence and citizen security (CEACSC), the CAMADs had contributed to a notable reduction in deaths and consumption-related violence.
In 2013 the government intends to open five more CAMADs throughout Bogota, in addition to the two which were running in “El Bronx” and “El Amparo” neighbourhoods. They will be located in the localities of San Cristobal, Suba, Kennedy, Bosa, and in the district jail.
While the program is still in its infancy, the goal is to also eventually provide controlled treatment and consumption centers for heroin addicts. However, to realize this ambition Bogota’s department of health must first have the approval of the Santos government’s health ministry to provide the methadone required for treatment. The treatment centers would not, claims Jaramillo, only provide a safe environment for addicts to inject, rather their focus would be to mediate the transition from a reliance on drugs to psychosocial care.
The true challenge for the CAMAD program is whether addicts can successfully overcome their drug dependence without cause to relapse, or whether it will merely mitigate the negative effects of drug use.
“When you are receiving care everything is fine, but if a comprehensive program is not available, it is very easy to relapse,” admitted two siblings and patients of the CAMADs, who have both relapsed but continued to receive treatment.