Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, October 16
In a disturbing trend, the count of chitta (heroin) addicts has surpassed that of cannabis (charas) and other hard drugs in Himachal as 34.61 per cent of addicts are chitta consumers. A major cause for concern is that the highest number of addicts are in the age group of 15-30 years.
Of the 1,170 patients (drug users) lodged in 27 de-addiction centres in the state, 421 are alcoholic (35.98 per cent), 405 are chitta users (34.61 per cent), 291 are charas takers (24.87 per cent) and 53 take chemical/synthetic drugs (4.52 per cent).
The situation is worst in the age group of 15-30 years as chitta has become the first choice among youngsters and 273, including two girls, were found to be chitta addicts while the number of charas users and alcoholic stood at 196 and 129. The youngest chitta user lodged in a rehab centre was just 13 years old.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, as not even 3 per cent addicts are admitted to rehabilitation centres. Moreover, the exact data about girls taking chitta and other drugs is not available as there is no de-addiction centre for women but their number has gone up in Mandi, Kangra, Shimla and Solan districts, sources said.
Chitta (Diacetylmorphine), semi-synthetic opioids, is an adulterated form of heroin and is addictive. Consumers get addicted on the third instance. It is highly lethal as its overdose could even result in death.
In most cases, the addicts are in the age group of 15-35 years and chitta users are basically multiple drug users. They drink, dope and consume opium, besides chemicals, but get addicted to chitta, says Vikram Kuthiala, who has been running a de-addiction centre “New Life Foundation” for the past five years. Convener of the Nasha Nivaran Board OP Sharma admitted that the trend was worrying and a multi-dimensional approach, from demand reduction to treatment, was the need of the hour.
“As the scale of drug consumption is going up, we will propose setting up of five model de-addiction centres, one each in all four parliament constituencies and one exclusively for women,” he said, adding that the focus would be on de-toxing, counselling and motivating them to start a new life by imparting training in skill and personality development.
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