Vietnam will roll out methadone therapy to 80,000 drug users in 30 cities and provinces nationwide by 2015 as pilot programmes have confirmed the efficacy of the medication as well as socio-economic benefits.

Five years since the therapy was launched, the nation now has 61 methadone clinics in 20 cities and provinces, treating around 14,000 drug users with no fatality due to excessive medication and unexpected side effects recorded.

After a 24-month treatment course, the percentage of patients, who are at high risk of depression, slid to 15 percent from 80 percent while a mere 1.3 percent commit to legal violations, reported the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Department of the Ministry of Health.

A heath ministry-conducted survey on over 1,000 patients in clinics across Ho Chi Minh City and Hai Phong, which have piloted the treatment since April, 2008, found 96 percent of them continue with the medication after the recommended treating course finishes while only 15.87 percent relapse into bad habits. Up to 75.9 percent of them now get employed.

Statistics collected from three methadone clinics in Hai Phong, Can Tho and Da Nang unveil that monthly incomes of the detoxified people rise from 2.6 million VND (120 USD) to 3.2 million VND (150 million USD).

The medication has also saved over 1 trillion VND (47.6 million USD) per year for 13,000 addicts in 11 cities and provinces as a drug user used to spend 230,000 VND (10.1 USD) on heroin, meaning nearly 84 million VND (4,000 USD) a year.

To reach the goal, the ministry is looking to spread the training of medical staff and transfer technology to more treatment facilities in the time ahead.-VNA