Editorial comment – Fighting hard drugs together

So doctors in Fiji lack knowledge of dealing with drug addicts!

The revelation by the officer-in-charge at the Police Criminal Investigations Department’s (CID) Drug Unit, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Anare Masitabua is a worry.

Yesterday we learnt there are no drug rehabilitation centres in Fiji.

That’s a major concern in itself.

We realise it’s probably not something many Fijians would have considered anyway.

In fact why would we, when we probably thought the only hard drugs we had decades ago weren’t anywhere near the stuff we now have on our streets.

To a large extent, marijuana would have probably been the ‘hard drug’ for many Fijians then.

We had alcohol, cigarettes and there was marijuana.

There were fights and there were weekend parties that sometimes lasted right through to the early morning of Monday, just in time for work for some people!

As much as we would want to shrug aside the notion that we are free and untouched, the world hasn’t forgotten us it seems!

ASP Masitabua spoke about how addicts were taken and left at the St Giles Hospital.

ASP Masitabua said methamphetamine was one of the most dangerous drugs we have in Fiji.

He said since methamphetamine withdrawal was extremely painful and difficult, most abusers got back into the habit.

Thus, 93 per cent of those in traditional treatment, he said, returned to abusing methamphetamine.

“What is wrong with withdrawal is that it would go on to 30 to 90 days.

We closely monitor these people for them not to go to any dealers.”

The reality he talks about is frightening.

ASP Masitabua said the best deterrent for methamphetamine was to have a drug free workplace.

“I have been telling everybody I meet not to go near this drug.”

Minister for Health and Medical Services Dr Ifereimi Waqainabete said the management of people who have ingested drugs was complex. “I worked in New Zealand and still it is complex,” he said.

Dr Waqainabete said doctors and nurses would need to do a lot of investigative work to come up with the diagnosis for a person who was a drug addict.

That actually worsens the issue for us all.

We live in a nation that appears to be slowly finding itself gripped by this scourge that has destroyed thousands of lives around the world.

There are obviously many questions that will need to be asked.

Time is definitely of the essence.

It is alarming that we do not have a centre that drug addicts can be taken to.

We realise awareness is a critical element of the campaign against hard drugs.

But so is a rehab centre where addicts can get appropriate treatment and be allowed to kick the habit.

This campaign against hard drugs needs the support of the people.

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