Battling to break drug addiction

Nazir Sufari

ESTIMATES from the National Survey and Morbidity study in 2019 indicated there are approximately 300,000 drug users in Malaysia. The World Health Organization reported one registered drug user usually has four unregistered users, meaning that the number of drug users in Malaysia may be as high as 1.2 million.

Persatuan Insaf Murni Malaysia (Insaf Murni) is a civil society group established in 2006 and led by its president, Dr Mohamad Khafidz Mohd Ishak. Khafidz, 56, has been treating drug users at his clinic in Kajang, Selangor since 2000. The organisation has 32 employees, 15 of whom are former drug users who have fully recovered. The group is assisted by two doctors from the government and is supported by the Health Ministry (MOH) and Malaysian Aids Council.

The staff members are trained by the Malaysian Aids Council and are issued Health Community Worker cards by MOH. Insaf Murni’s head office is in Kajang, Selangor, with additional branches named “Kabin Harapan” at the Kuala Lumpur and Pandamaran health clinics in Klang.

The primary objective of Insaf Murni is to encourage drug users to start using methadone therapy to prevent drug use and to help them return to a life of normalcy through various treatment methods, including psychosocial treatment, mindset formation, and spiritual treatment. 

The close cooperation between Insaf Murni and key organisations, such as the police, MOH, the National Anti-Drugs Agency and the Malaysian Aids Council, has made the programme a success in reducing drug abuse.

Khafidz said with MOH’s help, addicts can access methadone treatment for just RM5 a day, against the high cost of drugs like heroin, which can reach RM60 to RM100 per day. 

However, Khafidz expressed concern on the emergence of synthetic drugs, such as syabu, ice, and ecstasy, which cannot be treated with methadone. This growing problem, especially the increasing drug addiction among teenagers, is a worrying trend. – June 1, 2023.

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