Staff Reporter

CHENNAI: Speakers at the anniversary of Rajaji Centre for De-addiction on Sunday underscored the need to reach out to school and college students and spread the message of prevention. .

At the 16th anniversary of the Centre that receives thousands of patients in its outpatient clinic and has an admission waiting list of 25 people, it has been a long struggle to get addicts to kick the habit. The centre has signed a memorandum of understanding with a foreign university for treatment and training. Consultant psychiatrist Lakshmi Vijayakumar said the centre proposed to start occupational therapy session shortly. Following a request from Mylapore MLA S.Ve.Shekher, it also planned to start an outreach programme at Srinivasapuram Kuppam, she added.

Every year, the centre brings in a teetotaller, usually a television or film actor, to reinforce the message of abstinence. This year, actor Sivakumar spent around two hours with the members and their families.

He shared anecdotes from the film world of persons who had been destroyed because they could not kick the habit. “We need discipline in life. Government will keep its TASMAC shops open as it wants to make money. You take care of your health,” he told the audience.

Later, he gave away prizes to those who had successfully abstained after a session at the centre.