State fights back drug abuse, lines up de-addiction centres

It may be facing the bane of sharing 550-km long international border with Pakistan, becoming a transit point for the illegal trade drugs coming from the neighbouring country and Afghanistan, but Punjab, in its own way, has been trying to fight back and curb the menace of drug abuse by its populace.

The extent of drug abuse and the seriousness of the state in containing and curbing it can be gauged from the fact that it is all set to create 22 new drug de-addiction and treatment centres. Three such centres, all with 10-bed capacity, will soon open doors for the patients at Batala, Mansa and Hoshiarpur.

These new centres will be in addition to seven others operational in the state at Bathinda (25 bed), Talwandi Sabo (20), Ferozepur (10), Mohali (10), Jalandhar (15), Kapurthala (20) and Tarn Taran (15). Three de-addiction centres are operational in as many medical colleges.

Other than these 15 new centres have been planned by the state at various district civil hospitals. "Four more de-addiction centres will be attached to the medical colleges at Jalandhar, Patiala, Bathinda and Faridkot. They will also act as resource and training centre for the staff,"Dr Satish Thapar, programme officer, mental health and de-addiction cell of health department, said.

Two private de-addiction centres are running in Kharar and Patiala while the Red Cross Society of Punjab is running two centres at Nawanshahar and Gurdaspur. All these centres have 15 beds each.

Thapar said private individuals and NGOs are not allowed to open integrated rehabilitation and treatment centres till they acquire a license from the government. Currently there are four centres - one each at Patiala, Amritsar, Ludhiana and Muktsar - that have been granted licence to run the treatment centres.

Other than the treatment centres, there are 51 rehabilitation or drug de-addiction counselling centres being run across the state by NGOs. "Each of these centres have a capacity of 15-25 beds," Thapar added.

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