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Residential Inpatient Treatment for Addicts around the World

The addiction epidemic currently plagues nations all over the world. Thankfully, the citizens of many countries have access to residential inpatient treatment and other rehab services. Not all programs are alike, and some are better than others – but foreign addicts are often able to receive effective therapies. The following are three examples of rehab in other parts of the world.


South American nations are known for their problems with cocaine and marijuana trafficking, and Brazil is no exception. Cocaine abuse is rampant in large cities, and crack cocaine addiction is common even in rural areas. Fortunately, the Brazilian government has adopted several rehabilitative drug policies since the year 2000.

Officials have recognized that punishment does little to stop drug abuse and related crimes, and that untreated offenders will usually become recidivists. There are few legal distinctions between “hard and soft” drugs, but judges are usually given discretion in sentencing. Mandatory treatment and community service are the norm, and some offenders get lighter sentence by going to rehab before trial.


Thailand has some of the world’s worst problems with methamphetamines, cocaine, and alcohol. Although drug trafficking is actually punishable by death, citizens and tourists alike become addicted at alarming rates. To combat these problems, the country has several inpatient rehab clinics. Thailand is also one of the most popular travel destinations for addicts who want to get treatment abroad.

Unfortunately, the Thai government has rapidly expanded its own drug war over the last decade. In 2003, the Prime Minister announced a new set of policies, and the results were disastrous. Alleged addicts and dealers were killed by the thousands without trial, many of whom were later found to be innocent. HIV patients and other sick needle users also stopped going to treatment clinics, for fear that they too would be arrested.

Thankfully, the United Nations Human Rights Committee stepped in during 2005. Thailand reaffirmed its dedication to human rights in 2007, and the government returned to more lenient policies. Most courts now sentence drug users to mandatory rehabilitation, and the treatment of blood-borne illnesses is on the rise.


Like many European countries, Switzerland has a long-standing problem with heroin addiction. In 2008, the government approved a controversial policy which had already undergone extensive testing – giving free heroin to addicts. At government-run clinics, people can receive clean needles, sanitary supplies, and uncontaminated drugs. They can even receive safe injections from onsite doctors.

While some people feared that these measures would encourage heroin use, they have actually accomplished the opposite. Rates of addiction have steadily dropped over the last several years, and fewer people are even trying heroin in the first place. Studies have also shown that addicts who participate in this program are more likely to attend clinical rehabilitation in the future.

Lessons for the United States

Drug rehab is widely available in the United States, but there are still many problems with our current policies. Most drug offenders suffer for years in prison, only to return to lives of addiction when they get out. Brazil and Switzerland show that harm reduction and rehabilitation are far more effective at reducing crime – and helping addicts stay off drugs. Thailand’s own drug war is also an example of the failure of strict prohibition.

If you or someone you know is suffering from an addiction, you must seek help as soon as possible. Call the number at the top of your screen to learn how residential inpatient treatment can help you get back on the right track. Our dedicated counselors are here day and night to assist you.

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More