COVID-19 blessings: Over 5 lakh drug addicts treated in Punjab

As many as 86,000 new patients seek help

COVID-19 blessings: Over 5 lakh drug addicts treated in Punjab

Chandigarh, May 11

In a positive fallout of the COVID-led lockdown, Punjab has achieved a “major success” against the malady of drug abuse with over 86,000 addicts registering themselves for treatment amid the nearly total curb on narcotics peddling, a senior official said on Monday.

A total of 86,371 new patients registered themselves for treatment at 198 Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) clinics, including private ones across the state, he said, adding that a total of 5,00,552 patients had been treated in the OOAT clinics and de-addiction centres till May 6, 2020.

The Special Task Force chief-cum-ADGP, Harpreet Singh Sidhu, said the OOAT clinic programme was a “complete success and one of the most prominent efforts in de-addiction treatment across the world.”

He added that due to the improved registration at OOAT clinics, the duration of take-home medication was increased to 21 days which gave major relief to patients as well as clinics’ staffers.

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

The STF chief added that the Drug Abuse Prevention Officers programme, launched by the Punjab government, supervises community activities for preventing drug abuse in their neighbourhood and to link drug users with de-addiction centres.

Approximately, 5.43 lakh DAPOs had already been registered, of which 88,710 were officials and 4,54,332 were private citizens, he added.

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

Elaborating upon the strategy, he added that it was a 360-degree approach to controlling the drug abuse in the state and sought to synergise the efforts of all government departments with active participation of all sections of society to control the drug menace.

He said a total of 14,90,516 persons had been made aware of ill-effects of the drug abuse.

Besides, as many as 2,05,619 drug-abuse victims had been contacted, of which 98,278 had been sent to de-addiction or OOAT centres so far, he said.

The STF chief further said a “Buddy Programme” initiated by the force was aimed at protecting school children, college and university students, and youths from drug abuse.

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

Apart from this, 12,124 nodal officers, 1,27,146 “senior buddies” and 7,48,926 “buddy groups have also been appointed or formed,” he said.

In addition to this, as many as 37,24,090 students were formed into buddy groups and 6,28,606 programmes/activities had been conducted so far, he added. PTI

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