Amarinder changes strategy in Punjab’s fight against drugs after US expert prescribes compassion to treat addicts
In his fight against drugs, chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh is now set to change the government strategy for treating and rehabilitating the addicts while making the use of the existing infrastructure.
The first step in this direction was taken on Friday with Captain setting up a two-member committee to prepare a comprehensive de-addiction and rehabilitation plan after studying the new model suggested by Dr Kanwar Ajit Singh Sidhu, a US-based drug therapist and consultant, during a presentation.
Additional director general of police (ADGP) Harpreet Singh Sidhu, who heads the newly formed special task force (STF) against drugs, came up with the idea to involve the addiction psychiatrist in the ambitious drive. Sidhu, an Indian citizen, has many awards to his credit.
The principal secretary, medical education, and his counterpart in the health and family welfare department will develop the new model along with specialists from the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI), Chandigarh, based on the Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) model suggested by Sidhu.
What is OOAT model?
The proposed OOAT model focuses on cure through compassion and is designed to prevent relapse.
A panel of six psychiatrists will implement the model, with one monitoring 10 centres. Specially trained duty medical officers will be deputed at each de-addiction centre to supervise the five-stage treatment: induction, stabilisation, maintenance, termination and follow-up. The patients will also have to mark biometric attendance.
“Peer involvement will be integral to the programme. These former addicts will keep motivating the patients,” Sidhu told HT, adding that societies such as Narcotics Anonymous and Indian Drug User Forum will assist the authorities in hiring them.
Sidhu envisages a separate division to run the programme, which will also involve services of nearly 200 counsellors and other staff. They will be trained by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, Dr Sidhu told Captain.
Why old system needs to be replaced ?
Dr Kanwar Ajit Singh Sidhu said the treatment being provided at various centres in Punjab is primarily based on the abstinence model that focuses on keeping the addicts away from drugs. In 2016, the state government spent around Rs 100 crore on building more de-addiction and rehabilitation centres, but could treat only 8,533 patients.
Sidhu said Punjab is getting close to 10-lakh drug users and only 16% of them receive any medical treatment, which showed the model was not effective. Among these, less than 10% have received any regular treatment, he said.
“It’s an old model. It’s not cost-effective and most patients cannot afford it. It follows the one-size-fits-all approach and there is no room to personalise the treatment,” he said.