Shaken and stirred, Bihar’s booze addicts get support from families

  • Arun Kumar, Hindustan Times, Patna
  • Updated: Apr 09, 2016 09:10 IST
While most are celebrating the enforcement of complete prohibition on alcohol, hundreds are queuing up at de-addiction centres. (PTI File Photo)

Alcohol addicts in Bihar have had it tough since the ban was implemented, but this grey cloud too has its silver lining. An increasing number of families are now coming forward to support their kin in distress chipping away at the stigma associated with seeking psychiatric help.

At least 1,100 people had sought help at hospitals and de-addiction centres across Bihar till April 5. The number shot sharply after total prohibition was announced four days after April 1, show figures shared by the state excise department.

Even before full prohibition could be announced in Bihar, nearly 675 patients were admitted at de-addiction centres.

Read | Bihar’s liquor ban impact: Even local deities are going thirsty

“On April 5, total number of alcoholics admitted to de-addiction centres increased to around 850 with 153 people in out-patient departments (OPDs) and 20 new cases reported at in-patient departments (IPDs). More cases were reported on Wednesday and Thursday, taking the total number of patients to 1156 — 1,013 in OPD and 143 in IPD; some were also released. Their family has been asked to monitor behaviour,” said Umashankar Prasad, in-chargeof the excise control room.

The repercussion of Bihar becoming a dry state has been on expected lines. “What is unusual is that the families are now coming forward to support them and take them to de-addiction centres. This is a departure from what would happen earlier; addicts searched for alternatives and invariably found one,” said official at the Nalanda de-addiction centre.

Take Amit, for instance, who was admitted to an NGO-run de-addiction centre, Disha, in Patna after withdrawal left him trembling to a point where he couldn’t lift a glass of water.

Read | Bihar goes dry: Five things you must know about liquor ban

Anxiety, palpitation, changes in blood pressure, mood swings, restlessness, hallucinations, sleeping problems, agitation and occasional seizures are among the withdrawal symptoms addicts are dealing with. In some cases, symptoms can be severe enough to impair a person’s ability to function at work or in social situations.

The state had prepared its medical centres to deal with the wave of addicts struggling with withdrawal symptoms. The government has made OPDs & IPDs functional in all the 38 districts.

Kumar Dipak, director at Disha, said, “Officials from the state health department had visited us to understand the system.”

Read | What if like Bihar, alcohol is banned in Delhi-NCR?

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