Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Methadone programme participants

Many of them were unusually early that morning. By nine-thirty half of them had already gulped down their daily dose and a few of them, together with their guardians, had collected their two-day supply.

They were some of the active participants of MOH's Methadone programme at the clinic.

As usual, on Sundays I was there as a care-taker guardian of a participant. As a regular visitor, most of them knew me by sight.

"What more can you ask of an in-law?" One of the more garrulous of them remarked when he saw me coming there without fail.

Yes, I would always try to be there every Sunday. That is among other things that I could do to help.

Talking to them made me understand them better - these often neglected and forgotten drug addicts. Knowing that I cared, they unashamedly and frankly divulged their feelings whenever we were together.

It was sad to know that some of them were rejected by their own family. I knew that they had strayed, but when they realized that they had to change, they should be given a second chance.

I was glad that not all parents were like that. I had seen a mother coming all the way from Air Putih to collect his son's methadone supply. I also had witnessed wives following their husbands without fail.

Many of them were improving. Their methadone dose was decreasing by the week.

I had peered into their record book - the daily doses ranged from as high as 110 mg to as low as 20 mg per day.

Very few that I knew had successfully completed the course and I sincerely hoped that they would be forever free from the drugs.

I also wish that the public, including close family members, show more caring attitude towards them. They are people too, people with emotion and feelings. Please do not neglect them and brand them as the earth's scum.

No, they made mistakes. Forgive them and see that they cure themselves of the addiction and give them hope that they will succeed in overcoming their disease and becoming, once again, useful citizens.

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