Dubai Police offer addicts rehab instead of prison

The Hemaya app’s virtual assistant can answer up to 2166 questions in Arabic and English

Dubai Police have offered addicts narcotics education and rehabilitation instead of charging them with a criminal case.

Changes in the UAE’s anti-drugs law have helped many individuals come forward for help.

The new law prohibits a criminal case against an individual if he, or his family notified the police or a treatment unit.

There were 160 people who came forward for help in 2019 as compared to 121 in 2018 and 75 in 2017.

Those who approach the authorities were counselled and put into a rehabilitation programme.

They were also given medical treatment and were supported by group and therapy sessions.

“They are benefiting from article 43 of UAE’s anti-drugs law,” said Brig Eid Mohammad Thani Hareb, director of Dubai police’s anti-narcotic department.

“The article spares Emirati and expatriate drug users from punishment if they sought help willingly or were reported by their families.”

Families are now aware of drug rehabilitation and have reported members to the police for treatment.

“The amended anti-drug law gives parents the right to protect their children from legal action by reporting them and all reports coming from parents about their sons or daughters being addicted to drugs, are dealt with privacy,” Brig Hareb said.

Official figures showed there has been a steady increase in the number of people who have approached authorities to seek help.

Hemaya initiative in the emirate has also helped individuals fight and prevent drug addiction.

The Hemaya app has a chat channel with the virtual assistant Amna who can answer up to 2166 questions in Arabic and English about drugs.

Hemaya centre also runs awareness programmes and lectures to help young people.

“Addiction is a worrying problem and all community members need to cooperate in the battle against drugs. Some families don’t seek help from the authorities to deal with addiction problems as they are afraid it will damage their reputation in society,” Colonel Abdullah Matar Al Khayat, manager of Hemaya International Centre at Dubai Police said.