book ‘Coming Back to Life: substitution therapy with the eyes of experts and former intravenous drug users’

On 21-23 March Kyiv hosts the 2nd National Conference on Drugs Related Harm Reduction. On the eve of this important event, a UNDP-led project “Governance of HIV/AIDS in Ukraine” has published a specialised book ‘Coming Back to Life: substitution therapy with the eyes of experts and former intravenous drug users’.

book ‘Coming Back to Life: substitution therapy with the eyes of experts and former intravenous drug users’

On 21-23 March Kyiv hosts the 2nd National Conference on Drugs Related Harm Reduction. On the eve of this important event, a UNDP-led project “Governance of HIV/AIDS in Ukraine” has published a specialised book ‘Coming Back to Life: substitution therapy with the eyes of experts and former intravenous drug users’.

book ‘Coming Back to Life: substitution therapy with the eyes of experts and former intravenous drug users’

On 21-23 March Kyiv hosts the 2nd National Conference on Drugs Related Harm Reduction. On the eve of this important event, a UNDP-led project “Governance of HIV/AIDS in Ukraine” has published a specialised book ‘Coming Back to Life: substitution therapy with the eyes of experts and former intravenous drug users’.

For the first time Ukraine sees a book, which openly describes substitution therapy (ST) through the words and feelings of real patients, who underwent ST treatment themselves. The book features 10 young men and women, former intravenous drug users, who openly tell their true stories and speak about their ST treatment experiences and describe their lives without drugs. Many of them have managed to re-establish their family ties and re-new their physical health. Some have found new jobs, while the others started providing peer-to-peer support to those less fortunate, helping them in their every day lives to achieve new victories and cope with their losses. However, they all agree that ST became a real chance of saving their lives.

According to the evidence collected by many researchers and trustworthy organizations, including US National Medicine Institute, WHO, European Opiate Treatment Association, substitution therapy has been most effective relief method in opiate addiction treatment,” Sergiy Dvoriak, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Public Health Policy Research, says.

Despite the fact that this sort of therapy is recommended to be included into the National HIV/AIDS programme, its practical implementation too often runs into considerable opposition on the part of a number of official institutions. All this resulted in a number of misconceptions that surround the true meaning of the substitution therapy. The worst thing is that in Ukraine ST programme doesn’t work to its full extent, failing to respond to the current scale of HIV/AIDS epidemics in the country,” says UN Human Rights Advisor Alan Skurbaty.

In the words of Volodymyr Zhovtyak, Coordination Council Head of the All-Ukrainian Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS, substitution therapy provides HIV positive intravenous drug users with an equal access to treatment programmes. “By offering help to these patients, the state shows not only its humane attitude, but also prevents HIV/AIDS epidemics, and, finally, it saves considerable state funds, which are needed to pay for keeping drug addicts in prisons, who were locked up for committing small crimes. ST programmes are equally needed as any other element in drug-related assistance,” he adds.

I would like to say that if our country is truly willing to prevent HIV from spreading and reduce the numbers of drug addicts in the streets, this programme is most efficient one. Moreover, for many people it’s, probably, the last chance to regain their lives,” says Dmytro, one of the contributors featured in the newly-released book.

The book also contains a multimedia CD with audio and video comments by experts and ST patients. In addition the CD comprises the current legislation regulating ST programme implementation.

The book has been designed to demonstrate the efficiency of the existing ST programmes in Ukraine and advocate for their further use across the country.

Full text of the book "Coming Back to Life: substitution therapy with the eyes of experts and former intravenous drug users" (in Russian).

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For more information, please, call the project's Communications Specialist, Oksana Skytalinska, at +38 044 253-82-90.