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Punjab: Over 86,000 drug addicts seek treatment as lockdown chokes supply

Disclosing this on Monday, Special Task Force (STF) chief-cum-ADGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu said achieving a major success against drug abuse during the lockdown period, total 86371 new patients were registered for treatment at 198 Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) clinics including private clinics across the state.

Ranjeet S Jamwal | Chandigarh |

With nation-wide lockdown restricting supply of drugs, over 86 thousand addicts in Punjab have been forced to seek treatment at government and private de-addiction clinics ever since the lockdown came into force on 24 march to break the chain of Covid-19.

Disclosing this on Monday, Special Task Force (STF) chief-cum-ADGP Harpreet Singh Sidhu said achieving a major success against drug abuse during the lockdown period, total 86371 new patients were registered for treatment at 198 Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) clinics including private clinics across the state.

Till 23 March, the state health department had 4.14 lakh addicts registered with it (1.55 lakh at OOAT centres, 2.15 lakh in de-addiction centres and more than 30,000 in rehabilitation centres). An increase of over 86,000 new registered addicts has taken the state figure to over five lakh till 6 May.

Sidhu said due to improved registration at OOAT clinics, duration of take-home medication was increased to 21 days which gave a major relief to the patients as well as a respite to the staff.

“The OOAT model provides for medication-counselling-peer support services in an outpatient clinic”, said Sidhu.

STF chief further informed that the Drug Abuse Prevention Officers (DAPO) program launched by Punjab government supervises community activities for preventing drug abuse in their neighbourhood and to link the drug users with the de-addiction treatment centres. Approximately, 5.43 Lakh DAPOs have already been registered out of which 88710 are officials and 4,54,332 are private citizens, he added.

Sidhu said the STF has designed ‘Comprehensive Action against Drug Abuse (CADA)’ strategy which is based on Enforcement-Deaddiction-Prevention (EDP) approach.

He said it’s a 360-degree approach to controlling drug abuse in the state and seeks to synergise the efforts of all government departments as well as enlist the active participation of all sections of the society to control the menace of drug abuse.

He revealed that 14,90,516 persons have been made aware of the ill-effects of drug abuse. Besides, 2,05,619 drug abuse victims have been contacted out of which 98,278 victims have been sent to de-addiction/OOAT centres so far.

STF chief further informed that ‘Buddy Program’ initiated by the force is aimed at protecting school children, college and university students and youth from drug abuse.

Under this initiative, approximately 15,976 educational institutions have been covered so far in which 37,36,718 students took active participation.