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Drug for despair

Doing drugs is expensive but deciding to kick the habit can cough up a crazier amount, writes Sonal Srivastava .

india Updated: Jul 10, 2006 15:28 IST

Good things come for a price, but so do the bad ones. Drug addiction, for instance. All know that addicts have to shell out a lot of money for doing drugs, but if they decide to kick the habit, they have to cough up a crazier amount to do that.

A sound business opportunity? Right, as the mushrooming private de-addiction centres in the city prove. We went about town checking out some of these centres and what we learnt was mind-boggling-- depending on the treatment advised by the doctors patronising these centres, they charge any thing between Rs 15,000 and Rs 40,000 for 15 days of rehabilitation.

Addicted to money

The access to these centres is not very difficult as most of these are present in the yellow pages. But it’s the money that these centres make which is incredible.

For example, a de-addiction centre in South Delhi charges Rs 2,500 for first 15 days of rehab and approximately Rs 35,000 every month thereafter.

The facilities include gym and yoga instructors and Internet, but if you want to use their massage parlour, you’ve to pay more. Similarly, a de-addiction centre in Vasant Kunj offers services which come for anywhere between Rs 5,000 and Rs 15,000 per month.

Yet another such centre in GK-II, run by an NGO, charges a minimum Rs 2,500 a month and also sells a range of products made by the patients — from jewellery to clothes, priced at Rs 50 onwards. Some of this stuff is made-to-order for the embassies.

Behind the walls

Apparently, there’s more than meets the eye. These de-addiction centres not only deal with those destroyed by drugs but also house “those suffering from drug induced psychosis,” according to Nitin Sharma of Rama Drug De-Addiction & Rehabilitation Centre. In fact, some of them deal with severe cases of depression as well.

Some of these centres appear like jailhouses with barbed wires and locked grills. The atmosphere is so secretive that a visitor cannot even take the cell phone inside the premises.

Most of these centres are either run by doctors or by ex-drug addicts, who somehow could not re-integrate with the society. Sharma, an ex addict, who manages the affairs of a de-addiction centre in the city, says: “We (my friends and I) tried but almost started doing drugs all over again. Here, we get a pocket money and meals are also taken care of.”

Cost price

Social stigma of drug-addiction, compounded by the cost of de-addiction, make it really tough to get out of the habit. Besides, the cost of de-addiction is not covered by insurance agencies.

But even here, there are loopholes. An insurance agent, who doesn’t wish to be named, says, “ Some doctors generally cover de-addiction programmes under the guise of other health related problems, which not only ensures insurance cover but also helps in warding off social stigma.”

So next time when you reach out for a joint, do ponder over the fact that it will cost you more than what you are actually burning. Or just head to a government centre, which is much cheaper.