The Indian Red Cross Society inaugurated a de-addiction clinic on its premises to mark World Mental Health Day on Thursday.

The clinic is the brainchild of consultant psychiatrist R. Ponnudurai, who believes that by roping in the youth and preventing addiction among them, many problems among the elderly can also be resolved. The behaviour of young people is sometimes a source of distress to adults who may go on to develop mental health issues, he said.

Sometimes, even after going through a de-addiction programme, people return to their source of addiction and also develop a dependence on the psychiatrist and social worker, he said.

“There are some people who have been admitted to de-addiction programmes six or seven times, but at least the break from addiction gives them the time to rejuvenate their liver and kidneys,” said Dr. Ponnudurai. who has started de-addiction clinics at Government Stanley Hospital, Sri Ramachandra University and recently at ACS Medical College.

Dr. Ponnudurai, during his tenure at Government Stanley Hospital, conducted several studies in north Chennai that have revealed that substance abuse can lead to suicidal tendencies. Unlike in the 80s, when heroin was a major addictive, now youngsters are getting addicted to tobacco products, he said.

On Thursday, Stanley Hospital conducted a seminar on mental health illnesses among the elderly. The hospital runs an elder clinic twice a week, said dean S. Geetalakshmi.

Senior psychiatrist T.V. Asokan said elderly people who take life easy after retirement, are vulnerable to the four Ds of old age – depression, delirium, dementia and delusional disorders. An active person can avoid these ailments.

“It may be difficult to learn a new activity but senior citizens should try it for their own well being. Even after retirement it is necessary to remain active. Simple things such as reviving an adolescent hobby, going out, mingling with people and attending social functions will keep them active. The computer is a good way of learning a new activity,” he said.

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