Monday, 13 June 2011

15 former drug addicts claim they were victimised by cops

GEORGE TOWN: Fifteen former drug addicts on methadone treatment are claiming that they were victimised by police over an unnecessary drug test.

They claimed that police did not know the difference between methadone and ketamine, and accused them of taking the recreational drug.

Methadone, a synthetic narcotic with opiate-like qualities, stops the craving for drugs, allowing addicts to carry on with life.

The group's spokesman, who wished to be known only as Ong, said plainclothes policemen picked them up recently when they were at public hospitals and clinics to collect their methadone syrup.

Facing problems: Koay and the former drug addicts at the press conference yesterday.

“We were detained after the tests conducted by the police showed a false positive, and released three days later,” he said.

“Why drag us all the way to do the drug test at police stations when hospitals and clinics have accurate testing facilities?”

Ong lamented that police did this despite him and the others holding a special identity card and documentation to prove they were registered for the Methadone Maintenance Therapy (MMT) programme.

The group brought the matter up at a press conference at Pulau Tikus assemblyman Koay Teng Hai's service centre yesterday.

In 2005, the Government launched the MMT programme which provides drug addicts with legal access to methadone.

Koay acknowledged that as much as drug addicts be given a chance to kick their old habits, the police also had their own procedures to follow when carrying out their duty.

“Perhaps the drug testing procedures can be looked into,” he suggested.

“I will write to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai and state police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Ayub Yaakob to highlight the matter,” he said.

Meanwhile, DCP Ayub said police had acted following complaints from government hospitals and clinics.

“Drug pushers have been loitering around such places and creating trouble,” he said.

“We want to prevent former drug addicts from abusing the MMT programme by investigating what they have been up to.”

The Star