Opioid-dependent patients can now avail of methadone treatment at IMH

Drug Treatment Clinic at the institute is the first to be set up in south India

The Drug Treatment Clinic (DTC) at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Chennai is all set to provide Methadone Maintenance Treatment for opioid-dependent patients. The treatment, which is aimed at managing opioid use disorders through harm reduction using methadone, will be run on the lines of directly observed treatment short-course; patients will take the syrup preparation in the presence of a qualified psychiatrist at the clinic.

Established under the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) scheme, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, the DTC at IMH was the first one to be established in south India under the scheme. It extends treatment for all kinds of substance abuse and its related disorders. This included addiction to alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, inhalants and sleeping pills; opioid abuse being the newly added target for treatment considering the large-scale abuse of this substance, according to officials.

Special team

As of now, there are 22 DTCs across the country, including the one at IMH. P. Poorna Chandrika, director of IMH, said the institute entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with AIIMS last year following which the clinic was set up. A special team comprising a psychiatrist, psychiatric staff nurse and counsellor was trained for the clinic.

Now, the institute has received supply of oral methadone and dispensers from NDDTC. Patients can walk into the clinic with an identity card and start treatment after appropriate evaluation, she said. Until now, the treatment was not available in the government sector in the State.

The idea, according to officials, is to primarily manage opioid use disorders in opioid-dependent patients. “The aim is to relieve use of street opioids and subsequently, prevent transmission of diseases including HIV due to sharing of needles. This is a harm reduction strategy,” a doctor said.

Doctors added that patients can visit the clinic for treatment. Once initiated, they should come every day and would be evaluated for withdrawal symptoms.

After observation, the preparation would be given to the patient in the presence of the team — a qualified psychiatrist, psychiatric staff nurse and counsellor — and they cannot take it home.

The dose would be calculated for each patient.

Doctors said the scheme also provided another drug — Naltrexone — that is being used for both opioid and alcohol use disorders after appropriate evaluation.

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Printable version | Apr 6, 2020 8:16:53 AM |

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