Delhi

No place for addicts to seek remedy

Drug menace is on the rise in Gurugram and illegal de-addiction centres are taking advantage of patients

Illegal de-addiction centres are popping up across Gurugram due to insufficient number of government-run or authorised centres. The illegal institutions are running without any checks from authorities, which has left addicts, especially the poor, at the mercy of quacks.

Over the past few years, the city has seen a gradual increase in the number of drug addicts and alcoholics. The police has also been making frequent drugs seizures and arrests, which underscore the growing menace of drug abuse in the city.

Swati Sindhu, M.D. (Medicine), who runs a government-recognised de-addiction centre at Citizen Hospital on Jharsa Road, told The Hindu that the number of patients coming to her had increased almost three-fold over the past as many years.

“The number of patients admitted for de-addiction has increased from 4-5 per month to 15-20 per month over the past three years. It includes both alcoholics and drug addicts,” she said.

Though a majority of the drug addicts are autorickshaw drivers and rickshaw-pullers, they also include teenage students from prominent schools, rich businessmen, landlords and women.

Dr. Sindhu said the patients have told them how narcotics were readily available at pubs, cigarette kiosks and JJ clusters across the city and that psychotropic drugs could be bought without prescriptions by shelling out a few extra bucks.

“The new trend of injectable drugs is on the rise. Several drugs used for the treatment of insect bites and body aches, though not allowed to be sold without prescription, are consumed by the addicts. Though we find it difficult to procure these drugs for treatment, the addicts easily get them from certain chemists in the city. The chemists charge ₹200-₹300 for tablets that cost them only ₹2-₹3,” said Dr. Sindhu.

A Bachelor of Architecture student, undergoing treatment at the de-addiction centre, recalled how he took to alcohol and smoking when he was just 12 and studying at a prominent school in Gurugram. He later came in contact with drug peddlers at a hostel in Chandigarh.

“I sniffed heroin just twice five years ago at a hostel and I am not able to quit it till this day,” said the 25-year-old, sounding disoriented due to his medication. Sitting besides him, his father recounted the struggle to pull his son out of the mess.

“It is worse than cancer. Only 10% of addicts manage to come out it. While many die of overdose, the rest end up having no social life, no friends and no jobs. Many of our relatives stopped visiting us after they got to know about my son’s condition,” said the distraught father.

He pointed out how the menace was on the rise but treatment was expensive and difficult to find in Gurugram.

“There are only a few good psychiatrists in the city and only two-three authorised de-addiction centres. But there are many unauthorised centres, crowded with addicts, doing more harm than good. The daily expense for a good treatment range from ₹7,000-₹8,000 for drug addicts and still one cannot guarantee good result,” he said.

Credited with opening the de-addiction centre at Gurugram’s Civil Hospital in 2010, Brahmdeep Singh, a psychiatrist, said that drug addiction had increased with the exponential increase in land rates over the past decade. “The people in Gurugram turned rich overnight by selling their land and many of them took to drugs as they could now afford it. The increase in migrant population and its proximity to Delhi are other factors contributing to drug addiction,” said Dr. Singh.

Though the ten-bedded de-addiction centre at Civil Hospital caters largely to the lower middle class from Gurguram, Nuh and Rewari, the number of beds remain unchanged over the eight years despite the spike in the number of patients to the OPD.

No data

When contacted, Chief Medical Officer (Gurugram) Gulshan Arora said he did not have the number of government-run de-addiction centres in the city.

With the government failing to cater to the growing number of addicts seeking help, many, especially those belonging to the lowest strata of society, are falling prey to illegal de-addiction centres.

Most of these centres are run by former drug addicts without qualified doctors and psychiatrists. Ads for such centres can be easily spotted at bus stands, railway stations and other public places. There is no estimate on the number of such centres.

The District Social Welfare Department last conducted a raid at an illegal de-addiction centre two years ago. It rescued 30 inmates. District Social Welfare Officer Khan Sarfarj said no raids have been conducted since as no complaints have been received.

A woman attending to her alcoholic son at the de-addiction centre in Civil Hospital said that illegal centres charged around ₹6,000-7,000 per month, but treatment at the government hospital cost just a fraction of it. “But with just ten beds at the government hospital, the patients are forced to go to unauthorised centres in Gurugram and Delhi,” she added.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 7:52:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/no-place-for-addicts-to-seek-remedy/article24787680.ece

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