Studies show the effectiveness of sports. They show that sports not only have positive effects on physical but also on improving mental health. Sports and physical exercise decrease anxiety and depression and increase the self-esteem. Substance use disorders are often accompanied with primary or secondary anxiety and mood disorders as well as lowered self-esteem. Moreover, a number of studies demonstrate clearly the positive effects of sports and physical activities on adherence, reducing relapse and better outcomes in the process of rehabilitation and recovery of drug use disorders.
Widespread drug treatment is available in the Islamic of Iran. According to the Iranian Drug Control Headquarters over 6600 centres are providing treatment of drug dependence and harm reduction services to over 795,000 people who use drugs throughout the country. These centres operate in various settings such as in-patient, outpatient and residential and provide a wide array of services encompassing detoxification, opioid maintenance therapy, needle and syringe programmes and many more. In 2016, 1142 medium- and short-term residential drug treatment centres run by self-help entities offered services to over 121,000 people with drug use disorders in the country. Many of these centres offer the opportunity for sports and physical exercise but often in an unsystematic way and not necessarily complying with methods established in exercise science.
In this regard, UNODC under its Country Partnership Programme in the Islamic Republic of Iran and in collaboration with the Iranian Drug Control Headquarters and with the cooperation of the Department of Development of Prevention and Drug Treatment of the State Welfare Organization has prepared a guide manual for incorporating sports complementing drug treatment in Medium- and Short-Term Residential Drug Treatment Centres following a pilot in 2016. The pilot could take place thanks to the gracious funding of the Kingdom of Sweden. The pilot was implemented as a joint activity of the Project IRNZ78 of the UNODC Country Partnership Programme in the Islamic Republic of Iran and the UNODC Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries.
The pilot and subsequent developing of the manual was implemented by the Consultant Dr Masoud Hajirasouli, PhD-holder in Sports’ Physiology and Associate Professor of the Azad University/Islam-Shahr in Khaneh Doust Yaran short-term drug treatment residential centre in Tehran. Dr Hajirasouli has over a decade years of experience in research and education in the field of sports and drugs. The pilot comprised of developing a draft manual, equipping the centre with necessary but missing sports items and supplies, training of 4 peer trainers from the centre on the draft manual and including sports as regular part of the treatment plan of interested residents of the centre under the supervision of the consultant. The draft manual was then advanced and finalised based on the feedback of the pilot activity.
The manual aims at equipping service providers in medium- and short-term residential centres for including sports in the treatment plan of interested patients during and following their stay in the centres.
The manual consists of following chapters:
- Sports and suitable physical activities and their effectiveness
- Addiction, sports and treatment
- Application of sports in residential drug treatment centres
- Some consideration on addiction among women
- Considerations on implementation