Tribune News Service
Sangrur, May 26
Addicts in large numbers have been queuing up at Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) clinics for treatment since the lockdown was imposed two months ago. This has caused a shortage of medicines.
7,134 patients registered at clinics during lockdown
Perturbed over not getting the daily dose, many addicts say they are left with no option, but to start consuming traditional drugs like poppy husk and opium.
“Earlier I was getting the required dose on time, but for the past one month, doctors at OOAT clinics have been delaying it. I am left with no other option, but to restart taking poppy husk,” said an elderly man based at Bhawanigarh.
Some other addicts, approached by The Tribune, alleged that initially after getting enrolled at OOAT clinics, they got medicine for a day, then for a week and later the authorities even started giving them medicine for 21 days. But as the lockdown continued and the number of addicts swelled, the health authorities have started giving medicine for a day or two.
“It is very difficult for me to visit the clinic daily. I can’t stand in the queue for long. It’s better to have milder drugs than medicines as I do not want to die,” said a labourer on the condition of anonymity.
Data from the district health authorities shows that since the start of lockdown, 7,134 new patients registered at OOAT clinics. At least 1,639 patients were enrolled at Malerkotla, 1,036 at Ghabdan and 835 at SDH, Sunam. The total number of patients under treatment is 12,169.
“The sudden rush of addicts at OOAT clinics has caused a shortage of medicines. We have to manage with limited stock. We have taken up the matter with the higher authorities to ramp up the supply,” said Dr Raj Kumar, Sangrur Civil Surgeon.
The district shares a 42-km-long border with Haryana and this small stretch is a big headache for cops, who are facing a tough time in containing drug smuggling.
“With round-the-clock patrolling and strictness, we have broken the supply chain of drugs. As a result, addicts are thronging OOAT clinics,” said Dr Sandeep Garg, SSP, Sangrur.
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