Bali…..Island of the (Drug) Gods

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”BALI…..ISLAND OF THE (DRUG) GODS” font_container=”tag:h1|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_column_text]The National Narcotics Board (BNN) in 2011 estimated that there are between 3.7 million to 4.7 million drug users in Indonesia. Among these drug users, only 0.047 percent had sought treatment. A colossal stigma exists with the disease of addiction; much of society still views addictive behaviours as shameful.


The National Narcotics Board (BNN) ambitious plan is to provide treatment to four million Indonesian drug users in 10 years and eradicate drug abuse completely.

Setting the bar high is a sound strategy, but it helps to be able to see the bar…..

SM, Bali

According to the World Health Organisation, there is no legislative provisions for treatment and rehabilitation for people with substance use disorders. Indonesia has no drug courts to divert clients away from the criminal justice system towards treatment.

Relapse rates according to the United Nations Drug Report of 2010 are high in Indonesia since the compulsory treatment and rehabilitation offered is costly to the government.

Methadone maintenance programs and needle syringe programs have long been used in drug treatment especially of opioid use in Indonesia. Starting in the late eighties when there was a surge in drug use around the country, these treatment methods were first tested in Bali before they spread to other cities. In a survey conducted in 2010, the survey showed that methadone maintenance therapy had helped reduce heroin use, transmission of HIV, criminal activity and risk of drug related deaths due to overdose.

The survey showed that transmission of HIV among users had reduced from 42 percent in 2011 to 36 percent in 2013. This method of treatment has also been very successful in Indonesia since it has brought many drug users closer to drug treatment and support services.

The new regulation referred to as Joint Regulation on Processing of Drug Addicts and Victims of Drug Abuse into Rehabilitation Centres that was proposed in August 2014 proposed that drug addicts detained by the police would undergo an assessment and depending on the results of the assessment, the prosecutor would decide whether the person would go for treatment in lieu of incarceration. However, this condition is only available to drug users who surrender to the police.

In some areas of Indonesia like Bali, there’s still resistance to needle exchange programs and methadone clinics are always under constant surveillance. Rates of relapse from rehabilitation centers in Indonesia is high. According to the Asian Community for AIDS Treatment and Advocacy (ACATA) based in Bali, a single approach to drug treatment is only successful to 8 percent of the drug addicts and majority of treatment centers don’t offer alternative treatment options or a comprehensive set of approaches.

Drug treatment projects that are NGO funded also face a challenge whereby they don’t have data on the treatment that has been offered – if any to former drug users. Drug treatment in Indonesia remains a big challenge due to the high levels of stigmatisation.


There is however hope for Indonesia. 12 Step fellowships have experienced rapid growth in the last 5 years, and there is now a good choice of meetings. AA and NA are particularly strong in Bali. There are also several private treatment facilities that have opened there doors to paying clients.

If you choose a treatment provider carefully, there is no better place to start your recovery

ST, Perth


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