‘Pilot project’ to treat drug addicts to start in Punjab’s Tarn Taran and Amritsar next month | punjab$amritsar | Hindustan Times
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‘Pilot project’ to treat drug addicts to start in Punjab’s Tarn Taran and Amritsar next month

Under the opioid and outpatient assisted treatment facility, the opioid (heroin, smack, brown sugar, opium, poppy husk) dependents and drug injectors will be treated and counselled free of cost. Besides, narcotic anonymous (NA) meetings will also be held at state’s rehabilitation centres and Jails.

punjab Updated: Sep 14, 2017 15:17 IST
Anil Sharma
The project is slated to begin in October’s first week, said the sources from health department.
The project is slated to begin in October’s first week, said the sources from health department.(Representative image )

Anti-drug special task force (STF) and health department of Punjab are likely to launch a ‘pilot project’ with a plan to start opioid and outpatient assisted treatment (OOAT) facility, which is similar to opioid substitution therapy (OST), to treat drug addicts in state’s nine central jails and 22 rehabilitation centres.

The project is slated to begin in October’s first week, said the sources from health department.

Under the OOAT facility, the opioid (heroin, smack, brown sugar, opium, poppy husk) dependents and drug injectors will be treated and counselled free of cost. Besides, narcotic anonymous (NA) meetings will also be held at state’s rehabilitation centres and Jails.

In the first phase, the STF and health department will start the project in community health centres (CHCs) of Tarn Taran and Amritsar districts, besides the jails and rehabilitation centres, to check its effects.

Training of the border districts’ CHC staff along with medical staff of jails and rehabilitation centres has already been concluded at Amritsar’s medical college, said the sources.

26 OST centres are already being run in the state with collaboration of National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) and Punjab State Aids Control Society (PSACS) where the injecting drug addicts are given outdoor patient department (OPD) treatments. However, it is a project of NACO to control Aids.

Now, the psychiatric section of health department and STF has come up with the plan to treat all opioid dependents in Punjab whether they are in jails or homes.

Psychiatrist Dr Ranbir Singh Rana, who is also a master trainer of NACO, said, “It takes 12 to 18 months to be cured by OST. We are already giving methadone/buprenorphine, which is accepted by World Health Organisation, to patients but now, we have decided to launch a gold standard treatment (GST).”

“In GST, we will use buprenorphine and naloxone salts in the tablets given to patients. Besides, the drug patients will be counselled by a special team comprising a medical officer, nurse and a counsellor,” he said.

“We have planned to start OOATs at state’s rehabilitation centres and central jails first with the help of STF,” he confirmed. “In OOAT, we will also include ‘urine screening’ to check the status of patients’ curing. This was not available at OST centres earlier,” Rana said.  

“We have also planned to take the project to ground level. There are around 200 CHCs in the state and all of them will have provisions of OOAT facility soon,” he added.

“A team of NACO’s master trainers, including me along with head of Amritsar medical college’s psychiatric department Dr PD Garg, Kapurthala’s psychiatric Dr Sandeep Bhola, Dr Meenu and Munish from technical support unit of PSACS, are already imparting trainings to the state’s CHC staff,” Rana said.

Additional director general of police and anti-drug STF in-charge Harpreet Sidhu said, “We have been working hard on this project. The date of its initiation is not decided yet but we are hopeful to begin it from the first week of October.”