The building of a youth drug rehabilitation centre in Kandal province’s Kandal Stung district is now 90 per cent complete and the centre expects to provide addiction treatment services to 300 patients once it opens.

Sam Chamroeun, director of the youth rehabilitation centre, said on September 5 that its purpose is to help those who have fallen victim to drug addiction rather than punishing anyone.

“Now we are wiring the electricity and putting in some plumbing. We will inaugurate the centre in late 2022 or early 2023,” he said.

He said the centre will receive 300 patients in its first stages of opening – all from Phnom Penh – and will be able to accommodate and provide treatment services to between 800 and 1,000 drug addicts once it is fully staffed and ready.

“Apart from the victims of drugs transferred from the Kraing Thnong Rehabilitation Centre [in Phnom Penh], this new centre in Kandal Stung district will also receive other victims [from elsewhere]. Those who are treated and rehabilitated at this centre are not required to pay any fees because it’s run by the state,” he said.

Chamroeun continued that in tandem with their addiction treatment, they will receive some vocational training in jobs such as vegetable farming, hairdressing, tailoring and other skills for a period of six months to one year. After the training, they will be integrated back into the community or with their family members.

On September 5, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth led a delegation to inspect the facility and meet with officials who will be working at the rehabilitation centre.

Soth said during the visit that the centre aims to rehabilitate law-breaking minors so that they have better options than to continue on a course that would only lead them to more serious and lengthy incarceration as adults. Now, he said, they will have a chance to be good youths in society.

He noted that Cambodia now has 13 drug treatment and rehabilitation centres, of which six belong to the state and seven are operated by private or non-profit partner organisations.

“[Since 2017], Cambodia has seen 55,307 victims of drug addiction receive treatment. Of those, a total of 35,223 victims have been integrated back into their families and communities after making a full recovery,” he said.