The Ukrainian foundation for drug users and HIV positive people, Drop-in-Center, marked World AIDS Day, by conducting a broad public awareness campaign, explaining the basics of methadone programs for injection drug users. The campaign included launching of a new web-site which educates the Ukrainian community about all aspects of substitution therapy, placing public awareness ads on 300 billboards all over the country, as well as bringing journalists and reporters to methadone distribution sites and conducting press conferences.
Intensive media coverage was a result of the public education campaign. Although most of the articles just presented the facts about the methadone programs, some of them had a fairly negative tone toward the idea of substitution therapy, including some conspiracy theories.
The article Drug Addicts will Receive Methadone but Experts Think that This is a Way to Earn Some Cash published at gazeta.ua cited the words of Semen Gluzman from the Ukrainian Psychiatry Association:
…We are talking about legalizing a synthetic drug. The general public should participate in this discussion. There is a suspicion that substitution therapy is being lobbied by companies that produce these drugs. Today Global Foundation funds these expenses, but in future Ukraine will be paying for this program itself. These expenses will be a part of Ukrainian state budget.
Below is an excerpt from the article By the End of the Year Six Thousand of Ukrainians Will Become Methadone Drug Addictx from Criminal Ukraine:
…SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) has information, says Valeriy Kravchenko (SBU general) that a million of dollars was allocated to promote methadone programs in Ukraine. It is understandable that pharmaceutical companies which produce methadone should sell it somewhere.
But most of the public are more concerned about the fact that methadone is a drug itself.
Gazeta.ua presents the opinion of Anatoliy Gevlich from Ukrainian National Parents’ Committee for Fight Against the Drugs:
..You can not treat an alcoholic with alcohol and a drug user with a drug. You need to teach him how to live with this issue…It is impossible to heal a drug user. This is a social problem. We are proposed to give him a drug legally. This is a kind of euthanasia.
Criminal Ukraine writes:
..In 60th of last century two German doctors decided to treat heroine addiction with the other opiate which is called methadone. But in less than ten years they become disappointed in their own invention and admitted that methadone leads to an addiction which is worse than from heroin…
Here is a phrase from the article Quality Product from Narco Despencery published by Kiyevskiye Vedomosti:
…Do you understand what they are talking about? …Methadone is not a treatment of a drug addiction at all, it is just the opposite; it assumes such addiction and is based on it.
This is how Pavel Kutsev, the leader of Drop-in-Center foundation responded to such concerns.
From Pavel Kutsev’s blog:
…But this is a drug! It will not stop the addiction! What is going on? According to Ukrainian Law you could bear a criminal responsibility for methadone distribution and now you can get it leagally..?
How could I explain to these hysteric people that if this is “the same drug” we would be “the same drug users”!
“Please tell us do we really look like them? Like “the same drug users?”:-)
And I show them photos … where you can see sorrow, death, abscesses, ulcers, tears of mothers, letters from prisons, pictures of my friends who died from HIV. .. Don’t you think that we all, participants of methadone program somehow differ from people on these pictures?
First of all, all of us who are present hear are alive. Don’t you see that the participants of substitution therapy have even different look, different thoughts and one common hope – to live a normal life, to forget what drugs are!
Second of all, don’t you see a difference between a poison for buying of which you can be imprisoned and for obtaining of which a person is ready to commit a crime and a medication, just regular medical pills which you receive under strict control of a doctor?
Just be objective. Bellow there are some links for media coverage from a promo tour which, by the way, was organized by drug addicts themselves. Do you this that this unprecedented event could be organized by people who consume “the same drug”?