"The elephants need at least five times more that a human being would need at the start and then we slowly reduced that until they no longer needed it," Jiming told The Mirror. "But it is every bit as hard for the elephants to go through the cold turkey regime as it is for humans."
Fortunately, following more than a year of treatment and closely-watched recovery, the elephants were ready to be released. In 2007, the four animals were finally returned to the forests to be among others like them.
Jiming says that since then, the formerly-addicted elephants have undergone a remarkable transition back into their natural setting.
"It has been a long battle but we can safely say that they are now reintegrated into elephant society and in some cases even have families of their own," he says.
The time and dedication it took to give the elephants a fresh start at life not only helped those animals, but their species as a whole. There are only thought to be around 250 asian elephants left in the region, roughly 90 percent of China's elephant population. Elsewhere, shrinking habitats and poaching have led to declines of 50 percent just within the last three generations.