Punjab’s first drug rehabilitation centre on revival mode

  • Usmeet Kaur, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: Jun 26, 2016 15:29 IST
Medical officer on duty Dr Charanjit Kaur interacting with patients at a counselling session in the first drug rehabilitation centre opened by the government, in Amritsar on Saturday. (sameer sehgal/HT)

Left with only one patient a month back, Punjab’s first drug rehabilitation centre is finally on the road to revival. It has started getting new patients.

The Rs 5-crore facility that was inaugurated by finance minister Arun Jaitley in July 2015 had failed to pull patients, while private facilities were witnessing heavy footfall. However, with the coordinated efforts of a new team and district administration, the rehab centre has finally admitted 26 patients. The capacity of the centre is 100 beds.

The centre now has a team of three counsellors, one medical officer, and psychiatrists from Guru Nanak Dev Hospital. It is being supervised by treatment incharge Dr PD Garg.

The centre is on a revival mode and has also organised an event on International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on Sunday. Health and family welfare minister Surjit Kumar Jiyani, principal secretary Vini Mahajan and other officials of the health department will attend the event to interact with patients.

Around 400 people will attend the event and Harbir Singh, a patient, will share his experience of drug use and his struggle with addiction. Harbir, 34, has almost recovered and has become a role model for others. He said, “I was an addict for 15 years, having taken all sorts of drugs such as heroine, opium, smack, but I eventually realised the ill effects and went in for treatment five years back. Presently, I am helping a team of counsellors and Dr PD Garg by offering voluntary services to convince young addicts to come to the rehab centre. I request authorities to give me a government job so that I can earn a decent livelihood.”

Dr Garg has been successful in convincing patients from Swami Vivekanada Drug De-addiction Centre (SVDDC) of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital to come to the rehab centre and has promised to help increase the number of patients.

Medical officer on duty Charanjit Kaur also said they had added various other facilities such as yoga, gym, library and music therapy, among others. She said they were trying to provide a safe and happy environment for patients.

A few patients, on condition of anonymity, said skill development courses were missing and the district administration was failing to engage them in courses that could help them earn a livelihood. The centre also lacks motivational activities. Seminars and counselling sessions were getting monotonous for them, they added.

Harbir said despite all the efforts already being made by the team, other steps need to be taken that would create awareness among masses on the basis of skill development courses.

Dr Garg said, “The number goes up during summer and most of them have been detoxified of heroin (50%), opium, and alcohol,” he said.

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