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Posted at: Jul 14, 2018, 2:07 AM; last updated: Jul 14, 2018, 2:07 AM (IST)

After syringe ban, addicts turn to HIV centres, NGOs

Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 13

With the syringe and 'chitta' supply thinning out in the state, addicts have now shifted their focus to HIV testing centres (aligned with the OST programme) or NGOs, which supply fresh syringes for free, to get syringes. 

Even as the moneyed as well as shady peddlers take to online portals to buy syringes, among those from poor financial backgrounds, these HIV centres have emerged as go-to points to get syringes. The de-addiction centre in Jalandhar has also reported a spate of addicts referred by the police after the government clamp down on drugs. 

While at least 15 addicts were referred by the police to the Civil Hospital, Jalandhar, in the last week alone from police stations at Mehatpur, Noormahal, Maqsoodan, Sadar and Dakoha. On Friday, the police started a formal drive beginning treatment for seven more such youths who were admitted to the government drug de-addiction centre under the policy of the state government to reform the addicts, thereby enabling them to join the mainstream. 

Meanwhile, addicts in the vicinity continue to maintain they are getting their supplies from the HIV centres. 

An addict based in Phillaur, along with his five friends, has been getting vaccines from the HIV centre after the government prevented chemists from selling these without a prescription. 

He said, “We ask them for syringes after telling our names, which they note down. They don't ask whether we are HIV positive or not.” 

While addicts said increased patrolling at some of the points had curbed the supply, they said they were managing with the leftover ‘chitta’, which they bought 15 days ago. 

The pension ( Rs 10,000) of the Phillaur-based addict's mother is the only source of income of his family. He has been spending Rs 1,500 or more everyday to satiate his needs. But with stash running out, he is now opting for de-addiction. 

“We were getting ‘chitta’ from Talwandi and Razapur villages. But for the past five to six days, a police car is permanently parked outside the villages and patrolling is also regular. We have left with only 1 to 2 gm of heroine. I feel restless as it is my only stash left. My house was also raided a few days ago. But they didn't arrest me. I don't sell drugs.” 

A bunch of men — addicted to drugs ranging from ‘chitta’ to tremadol — from Dakoha has been adopting the similar means. 

“Some group members usually get drugs from various villages in the vicinity — primarily Subhanpur (Boota Pind). Now, the police have been counselling us to shun drugs. We would like to get treated,” says a youth from Dakoha. 

A Dakoha-based police official said, “We are identifying the addicts through the DAPO drive and counselling them to undergo de-addiction. Our main focus is to curb the demand which will only be achieved by de-addiction. So the focus is to reform the addicts and get them off drugs.”        

Dr Aman Sood, consultant psychiatrist, Civil Hospital, Jalandhar, said, “Last week has seen a surge in patients being referred to the Civil Hospital by police officers. At least, 15 addicts have been referred to the hospital in the week, five of them on Monday and seven on Friday. As far as the availability of syringes is concerned, some addicts are getting them from the local HIV centres as well as NGOs.”


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