An addiction treatment program in Laos: The first year's experience

Joseph Westermeyer, Chomchan Soudaly, Edward Kaufman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In late 1972 a treatment program for narcotic addicts was begun in Vientiane, Laos. Medical and social treatment modalities were emphasized: withdrawal from narcotic drugs, care for chronic health problems, a highly structured milieu program with explicit rules, and careful discharge planning with family counseling. Patients were accepted on a voluntary basis only. The first year's patient population were mostly married, employed, addicted to opium, and from rural areas. They comprised a diversity of ethnic groups. A smaller group of young, single, male heroin addicts (a type of addict new to Laos) also appeared in this group of patients. This treatment program proved highly acceptable to a large number of addicted people from various age groups and ethnic backgrounds. It was successfully undertaken by medical personnel who had minimal or no experience in the addiction field prior to work at this facility. Among opium addicts, twice-a-day methadone dosage for withdrawal treatment was superior to once-a-day dosage. Opium addicts required a longer detoxification regimen than did heroin addicts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-102
Number of pages10
JournalDrug and alcohol dependence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1978


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