During his recent field visit to a drug rehabilitation centre in Preah Sihanouk province, Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Chea Somethy urged recovering addicts to forget the past and focus on re-building their futures.

Somethy expressed hopes that they enjoy speedy recoveries so they can be reunited with their families, said the ministry in a social media post detailing his September 25 visit to the National Centre for Voluntary and Community-based Treatment Service and Rehabilitation for Drug Addicts.

“You should try to complete your healing exercises patiently and believe that society has no discrimination any of you. People who become addicted are victims themselves,” he said.

Sam Saphea, head of the provincial social affairs department, said on September 26 that Somethy also shared his belief that once they had been treated and left the centre, they would not abuse drugs again.

“The minister noted that the number of inmates has increased, but reminded them that rather than thinking about the mistakes they had made, they should be working to make amends so they will become good citizens once they are recovered,” he added.

The centre, located in Keo Phos cummune’s Rithy 2 village of Stung Hav district, can accommodate up to 2,000 patients.

It has the responsibility of accepting those who volunteer for treatment, as well as those who are ordered to seek treatment by a prosecutor or the courts.

The recovering addicts are provided with rehabilitation services and vocational training, so that they will acquire new skills before being reintegrated into their communities.

Hang Pito, head of Phnom Penh’s privately-run DTA Drug Treatment Centre, said the treatment of drug addicts is complex. Recoveries generally take at least three to six months, although it depends on the individual.

“While they are staying at the centre, they are instructed to consider their future. Before they leave, we tell their parents to keep them from associating with friends who are negative influences and to support them,” he said.

He added that once they left, the centre encouraged former patients to pursue their studies. Those who are without work should find a job that will allow them to earn money and contribute to their families.