2 years on, Punjab’s first drug rehab centre struggles for patients
Experts running the centre said patients who get detoxified in the OPD are reluctant to stay in the rehab for the longer period as their livelihood gets affected due to being confined.punjab Updated: Jul 13, 2017 09:59 IST
Punjab’s first government-run rehabilitation centre for addicts was opened in Amritsar this month in 2015, but the patient so far count reflects its failure to become a trusted facility. This, even as addicts flock to private centres in the city and elsewhere. Not once has the Rs 5-crore, 50-bed facility been filled to capacity.
Rehab is the second stage of treatment after detoxification which, in simpler terms, washes out the narcotics from the body. That costs Rs 250 a day, including food, and takes a week to four of admission at the hospital. But rehab, which costs Rs 50 a day, takes three to six months. Cost at private centres is around Rs 1,000 a day for monthly packages.
Experts running the centre said patients who get detoxified in the OPD are reluctant to stay in the rehab for the longer period as their livelihood gets affected due to being confined. The rehab — inaugurated by finance minister Arun Jaitley who had contested the Lok Sabha election from Amritsar — had 10 patients on Wednesday.
The rehab is a sister facility of Swami Vivekanada Drug De-addiction Centre (SVDDC) of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, and was set up so that the state, which has been battling a drug addiction menace for several years now, could provide reasonably-priced, reliable treatment.
Dr PD Garg, in-charge of the de-addiction centre and also treatment head for the rehab, and his team have tried to revive the facility by approaching the psychiatry department at Amritsar Medical College that could refer detoxified patients for rehabilitation.
The de-addiction centre gets 3,000-odd patients a month, said Dr Garg, and most are detoxified of heroin, opium and alcohol; “but when they are asked to reside at the rehab centre, they refuse”. That’s why the rehab, a brainchild of the then chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, has had a maximum of only 30 inmates. Those who can private centres prefer those over government facilities, though some state-run rehabs have been getting more patients lately.
“With the change of government in the state, there has been an announcement of having opioid substitution treatment centre in the rehab. That will add new life to the facility,” said the doctor, adding that the it would do even better if methadone maintenance treatment (MMT) is added too.
Currently, the oral substitution therapy (OST) centre at the hospital gets 500 patients a day, of whom 400 are recovering addicts. OST centres were developed for the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to improve health of injectile drug users (IDUs) and prevent spread of HIV-AIDS.
The government has been regular with funds and salaries for the rehab, which has 16 staff members, “but a lot more needs to be done to make the facility successful”. He said the centre also needs adequate supply of medicines.