Anonymous drug treatment in demand

February 6th, 2012

This article is more than 11 years old.

Twice the number of people attended anonymous drug counseling as expected after requirement that users be registered before being given treatment was waived

The success of anonymous drug treatment was revealed a year into an experimental program in which twice the number of people sought help than was anticipated.

Ordinarily, individuals seeking treatment for drug problems in Denmark have to register — unlike treatment programs for alcoholism, such as Alcoholics Anonymous, in which individuals only have to reveal their first name.

The success and popularity of anonymous treatment demonstrates the enormous demand for treating emerging drug problems, Dortea Nielsen from Project Anonym Stofmisbrugsbehandling (Anonymous Drug Treatment Project), told Politiken newspaper.

“It shows that there are many ordinary people out there who need help,” Nielsen said. “They have jobs and maybe even families and donÂ’t see themselves entering the ordinary treatment system. Anonymity is vital for them. I think weÂ’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg in Copenhagen.”

Since the treatment centers were established in January 2011, 134 people in Copenhagen and 71 in Odense have signed up for the treatment, which consists of weekly therapy groups for the first four months, then fortnightly for the following six months.

According to the users, the treatment works. Ninety-six percent said they had managed to quit or cut down their drug use following the treatment, while 90 percent said they are better off economically after the treatment.

But at the end of this year the project is set to end, meaning Danes seeking treatment will have to register again. Nielsen thinks parliament should legalise anonymous drug treatment, a position which CopenhagenÂ’s minister of social affairs, Mikkel Warming, agrees with.

“It’s paradoxical that we cannot offer anonymity because it is the best way to help people while they are still in work before it escalates,” Warming told Politiken.

Addiction expert Henrik Rindom also argued that many people would only seek treatment if it was anonymous.

“There is a large group of citizens who are drug abusers but whose social status means that they would never seek treatment at the same location as people receiving methodone,” he said. “Anonymity is vital for making the first contact.”


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