A report was recently published in 中国社会组织动态, a WeChat account on social organisations run by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, describing the story of Shanghai’s first social organisation to deal specifically with the rehabilitation of drug addicts. In 2003, in order to explore an innovative model of drug rehabilitation for the city, Shanghai’s municipal government promoted the establishment of the Shanghai Self-Strengthening Social Services Cooperative (generally known as the Ziqiang Cooperative) through a government purchase of services.
As of the first half of 2018, the Ziqiang Cooperative had provided a total of 35,740 drug addicts with community rehabilitation services. The cumulative withdrawal rate for three years and over has been claimed to be 29.60%. In addition to offering help and education, the cooperative also works to eliminate employment discrimination against drug addicts at the legal and policy levels through legislative advocacy.
Over the past 15 years, the Ziqiang Cooperative has gradually expanded its fundraising channels by using the funds from the government purchase of services and bidding for relevant public welfare projects.
Since its establishment, the Ziqiang Cooperative has tried to apply the method of “peer education” to community drug rehabilitation and community rehabilitation services. It has implemented four peer counsellor training programs and trained 47 peer counsellors. The cooperative uses the examples of people who have successfully weaned themselves off drugs as role models, and organises mutual aid and education activities that can influence, encourage, and help those who have not yet withdrawn from drug addiction to successfully recover and restore their social functions.
Eliminating discrimination and helping drug addicts re-enter society
In order to adhere to the principle of “being people-oriented” (以人为本), stated in the “Regulations on Drug Rehabilitation” issues by the State Council in 2011, the social workers of the Ziqiang Cooperative communicate with the addicts by means of letters, phone calls or visiting compulsory drug rehabilitation isolation centers, as well as visiting their relatives, the community police and their neighbours to collect some basic information regarding the addicts and develop a personalised help and education program.
The cooperative also advocates for legal and policy-level guarantee mechanisms, so that the legitimate rights and interests of drug addicts can be effectively guaranteed. For example, people who have withdrawn from drugs for three years should not be subjected to random checks, and measures to eliminate employment discrimination should be strengthened.