6,000 drug addicts got registered at Punjab’s outpatient rehabs in July

The Punjab Police claim after their crackdown on quacks and chemists who were involved in selling of habit-forming drugs, synthetic opioid dependents are now thronging the OOAT centres for treatment.

punjab Updated: Jul 19, 2018 09:37 IST
Anil Sharma
Anil Sharma
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
drug addicts,OOAT centres,Punjab Police
The health department officials say most of the patients visiting for new registrations are synthetic opioid dependents (who are addicted to medicinal drugs like Tramadol and Lomotil). (HT File )

In the wake of a spate of drug-related deaths across Punjab in June and the state government trying to curb the menace, as many as 6,000 addicts got registered at the outpatient opioid-assisted treatment (OOAT) centres in Punjab in July so far.

The state has 81 OOAT clinics.

The health department officials say most of the patients visiting for new registrations are synthetic opioid dependents (who are addicted to medicinal drugs like Tramadol and Lomotil).

The Punjab Police claim after their crackdown on quacks and chemists who were involved in selling of habit-forming drugs, synthetic opioid dependents are now thronging the OOAT centers for treatment.

Dr Jaspreet Singh, a psychiatrist who is also in-charge of the Bhagupur OOAT centre at Patti in Tarn Taran, said there are two types of addicts — opioid dependents and synthetic opioid dependents. “Opioid dependents are those who are addicted to heroin, smack, brown sugar, opium and poppy husk,” he said.

“Due to the police’s crackdown on the supply of medicinal drugs, around 70 per cent patients visiting for new registration are synthetic opioid dependents. Most of them are labourers.”

Dr Parminder Singh Sidhu, medical officer at government drug de-addiction centre and OOAT clinic in Tarn Taran’s Tharu village, said they are also registering many synthetic opioid dependents who are old and work as labourers.

Additional secretary (health) B Srinivasan said the OOAT centres in Punjab have registered a total of 15,500 patients till Wednesday and out of which 6,000 have been registered this month. The OOAT centres had started registering patients in October 2017.

He, however, said the department has not segregated the number of synthetic opioid dependents.

As per the daily crime reports of Tarn Taran and Amritsar police, 23 people were caught on Tuesday alone and more than 8,000 drug tablets and capsules were recovered from them.

Treatment process

Dr Jaspreet Said, “When a patient comes to us, we carry out their urine test. After finding the urine test positive, a counselor attends to the patient enquiring about their addiction history. After this, we issue them a unique computer-generated ID.”

He said after once the counseling process is completed, a medical officer attends to the patient. “The medical officer then decides on the medicine dose after going through the counseling and screening reports. It is compulsory for a patient to take medicine in the presence of a pharmacist,” he said.

He said it takes three to five days to decide on the dose of a patient. “After the dose is decided upon, the patient can get medicine from any OOAT clinic in the state by showing his unique ID. We give Buprenorphine and Naloxone Sublingual tablets to patients,” he said.

He further said a patient has to take daily medicine from the nearby OOAT centre at least for a year. “After the medication, we will start the process of tapering off a patient’s dependence on medicines. It takes around 2 years for a patient to get fully cured,” he said.

First Published: Jul 19, 2018 09:37 IST