WHO Finds Major Gap in Worldwide Drug Treatment

drug addiction recoveryThe WHO releases new information about world drug addiction treatment The World Health Organization, or WHO has released new findings showing that most of the world’s drug addicts do not have access to support or treatment.

The new information contained insight into drug addiction treatment for 147 countries and 88% of the planets population.  It concluded that there are only about 1.7 beds for every 100,000 people. With around 27 million problem drug users needing treatment, this is woefully inadequate.

Dr. Shekhar Saxena, Director of the Department for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, WHO, said, "Drug dependence is a disorder that can be treated effectively but, unfortunately, the large majority of persons who need it do not have access to treatment. The data presented in the new system illustrate the huge gaps that still exist in the area of drug dependence treatment.

But more and more countries realize the benefits of treatment for drug and alcohol dependence, not only for the individuals themselves, but also for the society and the economy."

Unfortunately, realising a problem and fixing that problem are two very different things. Currently, only 30% of the world’s nations are able to provide addicts with methadone and buprenorphine treatments for opium addiction. This makes detox much more difficult and possibly more dangerous. It also means addicts may avoid treatment due to fear of withdrawal.

Most countries are similarly under prepared to treat alcohol addiction. In their research, the WHO found only 9% of nations regularly screen primary healthcare patients for alcohol use and alcohol abuse disorders.

Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, Coordinator of the Management of Substance Use team at WHO said, "The availability of drug dependence treatment lags well behind treatment and care offered for other diseases according to our data. For example, only 45 percent of the assessed countries are able to provide essential medicines to treat the dependence on heroin and other opiates and in almost half of the countries where treatment is available not more than one in 5 persons with drug use disorders benefit from the services. A quarter of the countries which identify opiates as the main drug problem do not offer the range of medications recommended by WHO."

To address this gap in treatment, the WHO is recommending countries take better advantage of low cost medications to treat addiction as well as standardized psychological therapies. These methods have already proved effective in treating heroin dependence which in turn decreased the spread of HIV.

At the moment, there are only 82 countries that offer special health services for drug addicts. The WHO believe that better public awareness of alcohol and drug problems will increase this number and help those struggling with addiction to find treatment.

To see the full WHO information click here.

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