There is a need for rehabilitation / de-addiction centres for minors

Teachers, counsellors and psychiatrists, dealing with children and teenagers, are worried about the steady rise in cases of addiction among this age group. The worry is also because there are not enough support systems to counsel / treat them.

Though it is not so much to do with alcohol or drugs per se, the addiction is quite significant in the case of use of thinner, whitener, or petrol.

Ignored

Addiction to such materials is more easily referred to as substance abuse, which in most cases is either ignored by parents / elders, or not considered serious enough to take the person for counselling / treatment.

On the other hand, there is a need for rehabilitation / de-addiction centres for minors. The centres that cater to the 18+ age group say that there is no provision to treat minors as in-patients.

According to J. Nikila, Project Director of Foundation for Infrastructure Reconstruction and Employment (FfIRE) in Sirumugai, which counsels and treats alcoholics and addicts, the 35 patients that the centre treats are in the age group of 18 and 70 years. “It is a must that they stay for 60 days in the centre, after which they visit as out-patients and a regular follow-up regimen is prepared. Those below 18 years are admitted only when referred by the Government authorities,” she says.

Amendment

R. Senthilkumar, District Child Protection Officer, says that with the recent amendment to The Juvenile Justice (Child and Protection of Children) Act, the District Child Protection Office (DCPO) or Juvenile Justice Board (JJB) can refer those below 18 years for counselling / treatment to such centres.

According to a representative of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) Miracle Group that meets once a week, the situation is different.

Though the number from the age group of 17 to 22 attending the AA meetings has increased, it is not so in the case of teenagers.

“The AA meetings are relevant to any age group. The ones who are in the age group of 17 to 22 are more motivated in keeping the initiative going. This was not the case till a few years ago. But the younger ones are controlled by the elders /parents at home. Unless referred by a rehabilitation centre or a doctor, teenagers are not allowed by the elders to attend AA meetings,” the representative laments.

NGOs, JJB and DCPO hope that more adolescent victims receive the right kind of counselling / treatment.

But this they believe will be possible only when parents accept their wards condition and are willing to help them come out of it.

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