More than 500 Colombians have begun drug detoxification programs, which entail supplying prescription drugs to addicts, Bogota‘s Secretary of Health said Tuesday.
“Operation CAMAD” is a government-backed program designed to fight the war on drugs in a non-conventional way.
“At this time, we will use only drugs that are accepted [by law] and only physicians [can adminster them],” Bogota’s Secretary of Health, Guillermo Alfonso Jaramillo said in September.
Article 49 of Colombia’s constitution states that “the possession and consumption of narcotic or psychotropic substances is prohibited, unless prescribed” — implying that the consumption of these substances would be permitted with a doctor’s consent. This implication led Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro to push for the creation of CAMADS throughout the capital in hopes of lowering crime rates.
CAMADs (mobile service centers for drug addicts) provide medical services ranging from psychiatric exams to dental hygine checkups for drug addicts. These sites seek to assist in the withdrawl process and aid those deemed “highly aggressive” and dangers to the environment via a variety of treatments.
The first CAMADs have been placed in the heart of the Colombian capital in the Bronx and Amparo sectors.
According to an interview with Caracol Radio, Jaramillo expects more centers to be erected throughout the city for the remainder of 2012 and well into 2013. The health secretary said in only its first month of operation, 936 people received care and 532 began the arduous process of “leav[ing] the world of drugs.”
“We are providing all [the care we can], but it is a difficult process for the addict to leave behind this vice,” said Jaramillo.
Though Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has called these drug consumption centers “irresponsible”, their subsequent implementation owes thanks to the Santos administration labeling drug addiction a public health matter rather than a criminal one.
The decriminalization legislation was enacted in early August and recognizes “the consumption and abuse of, or addiction to, psychoactive substances, legal or illegal, as a matter of public health and the well-being of family, community and individuals.”
The new law requires health insurance companies to cover the voluntary treatment of drug addicts. Prior to the law’s passing, drug addicts could only obtain financial resources for treatment through legal action.