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Posted at: Jan 15, 2016, 1:56 AM; last updated: Jan 15, 2016, 1:54 AM (IST)

2.3 lakh opioid-dependent in 10 Punjab districts

76% aged between 18-35 years, admission to de-addiction centre reported by just 8%: Survey

New Delhi, January 14

There are about 2.3 lakh opioid-dependent people in Punjab, of whom 76 per cent are aged between 18 and 35 years, and heroin is the most widely used opioid, a recent government survey has found.

As per the report of the survey, commissioned by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and supported by the state government, about 99 per cent of the drug addicts are males and 54 per cent are married.

“A large majority (89 per cent) are literate and have some degree of formal education. About 56 per cent of opioid-dependent people belong to rural areas and almost all 99 per cent report Punjabi as their mother tongue.

“The most common opioid drug used by this group is heroin (53 per cent), followed by opium, doda and bhukki (33 per cent).

The rest (14 per cent) reported using a variety of pharmaceutical opioids. About one-third take their opioid drugs through the injecting route and among them almost 90 per cent (29 per cent overall), inject heroin," the report said.

The survey covered 3,620 opioid-dependent individuals across 10 districts -- Bathinda, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Moga, Patiala, Sangrur, Tarn Taran -- which together house about 60 per cent of the population of Punjab.

The ‘Punjab Opioid Dependence Survey’ (PODS) was jointly conducted by the Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses and the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.

The report, which has been released by the state government, also highlighted a huge gap in the availability of treatment services for opioid-dependent individuals.

While as many as 80 per cent of opioid dependent individuals tried to give up, only about 35 per cent received any help. Evidence-based, effective treatment has been received by a miniscule proportion.

“Admission to a de-addiction centre", which appears to be the most focused-upon addiction-treatment strategy in the state, is reported by just about 8 per cent individuals in the last year.

"If the treatment strategies remain focused on only a single modality of treatment (i.e. "admission to a de-addiction centre"), it will take about 10 years to provide a single episode of treatment to the entire opioid-dependent population in the state," the report states. — PTI

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