The National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) integrated nearly 7,500 addicts from its treatment centres back into society in 2021, as part of its ongoing efforts to address the issue.

NACD president Ke Kim Yan made the announcement while presiding over the inauguration of the National Centre for Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation in Preah Sihanouk province on March 22.

The ceremony was attended by a Thai delegation led by ambassador Panyarak Poolthup and a Vietnamese delegation led by ambassador Nguyen Huy Taing, along with more than 500 officials, residents and students.

Kim Yan said Cambodia has launched a total of 454 mental health and drug addiction services in two national hospitals, 98 referral hospitals and 354 health centres across the country.

In addition to community-based services and the national treatment centre, Cambodia has 18 smaller treatment facilities – 11 public, three private, and four run by NGOs.

“In 2021, we treated 16,264 addicts, 3,049 of whom continue to receive treatment in the centre. There were 5,124 who received help while living among the public and 7,482 who completed in-patient treatment and have been re-integrated into their communities. A total of 609 drug users who committed crimes were sent to prison,” he said.

Kim Yan said drugs are a global problem, and every society on Earth suffers from their impact on the economy, public order and human resource development. The significant growth of global and regional drug trafficking is a worrisome trend, he added, even in the context of the Covid-19 crisis.

He said the demand for synthetic drugs – in particular methamphetamine – was especially strong and that production and circulation of this drug is becoming more complex and continuing to grow. This drug is particularly prevalent across the greater Mekong sub-region, due to its proximity to the ‘golden triangle’, a hub of production.

Drug gangs are actively changing the pattern of trafficking, and are constantly devising new methods to obtain over-the-counter chemicals for their production operations. They also use modern technology to communicate globally in support of their nefarious schemes, he added.

“All these factors mean Cambodia faces a significant threat from this global problem. But you can rest assured that the government – with the NACD as its frontline troops – is constantly working to counteract the negative influence of drug peddlers and their plans. We are utilising every possible means or mechanism, both national and international, to fight against the scourge of drugs,” he said.

Chuon Sovann, deputy head of the NACD and chairman of its construction committee – said construction of the national rehabilitation centre began in August 2017 and was completed last December. The facility, which includes 21 buildings and sports facilities, was built at a cost of more than $7 million. Partial funding came from the governments of Thailand and Vietnam.

Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth said its construction signified the government’s commitment to its national plan on drug control, which called for strengthened treatment and societal re-integration for victims.

Vietnamese ambassador Tang said his nation’s assistance was intended to deepen the bonds of friendship between the two countries as they mark the 55th anniversary of diplomatic relations.

Thai ambassador Panyarak also said his country’s participation would strengthen solidarity and friendship as the two nations celebrate the 70th anniversary of diplomatic ties.