A joint initiative by the civic-run KEM Hospital and the Mumbai Police’s anti-narcotic cell (ANC) is helping drug addicts in Mumbai beat the habit.
Recently, a team comprising doctors and nurses from KEM hospital’s de-addiction centre, under the guidance of Dean Dr.Sandhya Parkar, and policemen from the ANC’s Azad Maidan unit reached out to addicts at an awareness camp in the Reay Road area, considered a hotbed for drug abuse.
At the camp, participants were given information about methadone syrup, which would help them beat their addictions. The syrup, addicts say, relaxes them like drugs such as brown sugar do, while avoiding the ‘lows’ associated with drugs. But the real novelty of the syrup is that it slowly weans addicts off a particular drug.
“A few addicts told us that the syrup provides the same stability and peace that drugs do, but it also helps them quit,” said senior inspector Suhas Gokhale of the Azad Maidan ANC unit.
“After joining our course, we give addicts doses of methadone syrup based on the level of their respective addictions,” said Dr.Shilpa Adarkar, assistant professor at KEM’s de-addiction centre.
She said that the syrup is to be administered only under a doctor’s supervision. Generally, drug addicts exhibit withdrawal symptoms such as body ache, muscular cramps, abdominal cramps, watering of the eyes and nose, diarrhoea, stress and vomiting.
“Methadone syrup helps reduce craving and also helps in controlling the withdrawal symptoms,” says Dr. Sri Snnigdha, a clinical psychologist at the de-addiction centre. “Initially, some addicts mistakenly think that the syrup is having the same effect as drugs, but we never encourage this thought as it only reinforces their belief that they are still consuming drugs.”
In addition to the syrup, addicts are also given lectures based on psychology, craving management, relapse prevention and stress management.
Doctors feel that these awareness camps, organised, along with ANC officials, could help identify drug abuse hotspots in the city.
“If more such camps are organised, addicts will realise the importance of de-addiction. Unless addicts realise their problem, which is the goal of our awareness camps, they won’t seek treatment,” said Dr. Snnigdha.
Based on the positive response to the awareness camp, senior police officials have decided to conduct the drive on a higher scale.
“I have ordered all five ANC units across the city to carry out similar camps in their respective areas with the help of health officials and doctors so that we can reach as many as addicts as possible,” said Namdev Chavan, deputy commissioner of police, ANC.
Supported by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the project currently has five centres in the country – one in Delhi, two in Punjab, one in Imphal and one in Mumbai.