Though over recent years, more attention has been paid and more efforts have been aimed at the rights of drug users, and particularly, the right to health, inpatient treatment and rehabilitation services are still not available to them. The RA National Center for Addiction Treatment, Gyumri Mental Health Center, Lori Regional Neuropsychiatric Dispensary and Syunik Regional Neuropsychiatric Dispensary provide inpatient medical services to drug users. This means that these services are available only in Yerevan and three regional centers of the Republic.
The number of registered drug users is growing in the Republic of Armenia. For example, in 2014, the number of drug users was 5357, while as of 1 January 2022, there were 7570 drug users. According to specialists, this number can be multiplied by at least 5, as in the initial stages, people usually avoid going to the doctor and they only go to the doctor after complications and psychosomatic symptoms emerge (law enforcement bodies also refer them to examinations). This is largely conditioned by the existing stigma against drug users.
It is noteworthy that along with the increase in the number of registered drug users, there is a decrease in the number of those with such health problems receiving medical aid․ In 2015, 365 drug users were receiving medical aid; in 2018, 359 drug users were receiving medical aid; while in 2020, only 160 drug users were receiving medical aid.
The introduction of methadone maintenance treatment in 2010 was important in terms of treatment of drug users, and provision of this treatment has been expanding; in early 2021, 552 persons were receiving methadone maintenance treatment (in 2016, 487 persons were getting this treatment). Attaching importance to provision of methadone maintenance treatment, it should still be mentioned that it does not meet the need completely. Thus, in 2020, there were cases when applicants were refused to be included in the program, as they did not meet the criteria of being considered a socially vulnerable group.
It is important to review the approaches in combating drug trafficking, and give priority to human rights-based approaches when developing policies related to drug users.
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