Pubdate: Mon, 13 Aug 2012
Source: Daily Star, The (Lebanon)
Copyright: 2012 The Daily Star
Author: Mohammed Zaatari


SIDON, Lebanon: In light of reports of rampant drug use across Lebanon, 
Sidon launched Sunday a civil council to fight drug addiction. The body 
is tasked with developing programs to raise awareness as well as 
establishing a specialized drug rehabilitation center.

At the ceremony to inaugurate the civil council - the first of its
kind in Sidon addressing addiction - Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi said
that the project "should be an example of breaking the barrier of
silence and fear of addressing the problem of addiction."

The initiative was launched with the support of Sidon MP Fouad
Sinioria in cooperation with local civil society organizations and the

Kuwaiti Sheikh Bader Homeidi and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social
Development contributed funding.

"We should use this as a launch pad to spread awareness that the
problem of addiction is not solved by locking the addict up and
depriving him of financial means. It needs experts who will work with
the addict at all levels to rehabilitate him or her and integrate the
person back into society," Saudi told attendees of the ceremony

Attending were South Lebanon Governor Nicholas Bou Daher, MP Michel
Moussa and Future Movement official Nasser Hammoud, representing MP
Bahia Hariri, as well as representatives of the various organizations
involved in the initiative.

Arab Kalash, who heads the council, praised Siniora's efforts and
noted that the work of the council concerned all residents of Sidon,
as everyone had a duty to help with the rehabilitation of the city's
drug addicts.

One aim of the council is to promote treatment options for drug
addicts as opposed to imprisonment. In 2011, 216 individuals were
detained and charged with drug use in Sidon and its surrounding areas,
according to figures released at the inauguration.

The council will put $1.1 million from the Arab Fund for Economic and
Social Development toward establishing a specialized rehabilitation
center to treat addiction.

The center will offer medical, psychological, educational and social
services with a focus on reintegrating recovered addicts back into

The holistic services will also include vocational training to help
individuals get back to work.

Another aspect of the council's work to fight addiction is to educate
students in schools and universities. It will focus on the dangers of
drug use and break down the stigma surrounding addiction, raising
awareness that addicts are victims and not criminals who need to
undergo treatment, not trial.
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