While law enforcement officials work to finish the draft of a new anti-drug law, authorities should also focus on alternative methods to help those suffering from drug addiction, Interior Minister Sar Kheng said Monday.
“Drug abusers are not criminals. They are victims who cause pain for their families and their community as a whole,” Sar Kheng said in a speech at a workshop in Phnom Penh on community-based drug treatment.
Community-based drug treatment is designed to provide treatment and prevention services outside of traditional formats, such as hospitals and centers, and take counseling, prevention education and other services directly to villages.
Sar Kheng said the National Authority for Combating Drugs is planning to forward a new anti-drug draft law to the National Assembly in the coming months. He added that more needs to be done.
“The existing laws on drug control contain a lot of gaps,” Sar Kheng said. “I hope the new law is approved, but actually we don’t really only rely on laws to combat drugs—we can’t just rely on punishment—but we must focus on rehabilitation and education as well,” he said.
This is where community based drug treatment comes in, Sar Kheng said.
“It passes the message on to the youth who haven’t yet been into using drugs to stay away from drugs, and says to drug users to get help and get treatment for a brighter future, and finally to those who have been healed of drug abuse, to tell their friends to get treatment,” he added.