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Fight against Drug Abusers or Drug Abuse?

15.01.2007
drogen.gifThe government has severed sanctions against drug-abusers. Experts in narcology do not share the government’s attitude to the problem, and they think that severing the sanctions against drug-abusers will further complicate the situation.

According to the State Narcological Center, the number of drug-abusers has increased for the last two years in the Adjara Region.  The police have discovered nearly 2764 cases of drug abuse in the region during nine months in 2006. Unofficial information states that the real number of drug abusers is higher than what was estimated. 

“The number of drug abusers tends to increase. Maybe, the reason is that it has become easier to get drugs in our country,” said Maia Kontselidze, expert in narcology for the State Narcological Center.

Along with the increase, the government has severed the sanctions against drug abusers and is going to fine abusers with 500 GEL.   Genadi Kartsivadze, lawyer-consultant for the Georgian Young Lawyers Association, said that the amendments to the law were made in August. “A person who is arrested for drug abuse will be fined with 500 GEL or imprisoned for 30 days. If s/he does not pay the fine in time, the sum will be taken from his salary, pension or scholarship. If s/he does not have any, the fine will be paid by selling something from his/her private property.”

Erik Muradov is a drug-abuser. Several months ago he was detained for the abuse. According to the new legislation, the court fined him with 800 GEL. Non-governmental organization “Alternative Georgia” spread information that Muradov could not pay the fine because he has no income. “The Executive Bureau sold Muradov’s house for 3.500GEL in an auction in order to pay the fine. As a result, his mother was exiled from the house with her son. The woman is mentally disabled and was placed at the Institute for Psychiatric Research.”

Zoria Tsurtsumia has been working on the problem of drug abuse since 2001. She thinks that it is impossible to avoid cases like Muradov’s in the case of the legislation. “This unpleasant situation proves how our government fights against drug-abusers. In fact, the government deprives the drug-abuser from his right to live. Such a person is sick and you should not send him/her to prison. You should not fine the drug-abuser and moreover, you must not seize his/her property.
The government must focus on opening rehabilitation centers for such people. The civilized world has realized that the problem of drug abuse can be resolved by spending a lot of money on their rehabilitation. Contrary to that, our government tries to get money from drug abusers. I cannot understand where the government spends the money. However, I am quite sure that this money is not spent on drug-abusers’ treatment.”

Kontselidze is also skeptical about the severe sanctions. “Drug abuse is a bio-psycho-social problem and it cannot be resolved with sanctions; they are not serious and have a poor attitude towards the problem. We fight the drug abusers with these sanctions and not the abuse itself. Unfortunately, the fight against the drug abuse is not a priority for our government.”

In Georgia there are centers which only aim at the biological treatment of drug abusers. That is the curing of withdrawal. (Treatment at these centers is voluntary). After this treatment the abuser should take some rehabilitation program to overcome the psychological dependence on the drug. 

There is no rehabilitation center. Though very often the church replaces it in our country, experts in narcology said, it cannot resolve the problem.

Drug abuse is the biggest problem for Marina Shakaraishvili. Her son is a drug abuser. She has informed the police about her son’s illness. However, the police could not assist her. “I thought I had made a good decision. I was sure I had saved my son. But soon I found out that it is as easy to get drugs in prison as it is to get them outside. My son is not a criminal; he is sick and needs good treatment. It is ridiculous to fine such people. It is like being infected with HIV/AIDS and being fined for the illness, or having your property sold in an auction,” said Shakarishvili.

 

Sofo Zhghenti, Batumi

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