The proportion of drug addicts nationwide to join a two-year methadone treatment programme is 93 percent, with nearly 16 percent of them continuing to use drugs, albeit at a lower frequency, according to the Ministry of Health.

The percentage of patients who are at high risk of depression slid to 15 percent from 80 percent after one year of treatment. Many have gained weight and seen their physical and mental health stabilise. Only one case of HIV was reported out of the 1,000 patients surveyed, a health ministry survey showed.

Meanwhile, the rate of legal violators has dropped to 1.3 percent from 40.8 percent.

This sort of therapy has also proved economical, according to the preliminary survey in 11 provinces and cities. It showed that a person with a heroin dependence wastes 230,000 VND (10.8 USD) per day for buying drugs (around 84 million VND or 4,000 USD per year). In comparison, the cost for methadone treatment ranges between 6 and 8 million VND.

Deputy Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long said the ministry is striving for a wider applications of this method to treat around 80,000 drug addicts nationwide by 2015.

Additionally, it will call for the Government and sponsors’ financial support to ensure sufficient medicine for 30,000 patients in the near future, Long said.

Methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) has long been carried out in more than 80 countries and territories, benefiting over 1 million drug users.

This programme was initially piloted in Hai Phong and Ho Chi Minh City in April 2008, and then spread to 32 cities and provinces nationwide, with more than 17,500 patients being treated at 92 clinics.-VNA