Mobile rehab clinics shot in the arm for drug addicts - ECAS Punjab

Mobile rehab clinics shot in the arm for drug addicts

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Aparna Banerji

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 7

Men, both young and old, gather eagerly around a vehicle which arrives in their area early every morning. And no, it doesn't distribute langar, it offers treatment to drug addicts.

In April, 1,293 people registered for treatment with OOAT (Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment) clinics in Kapurthala. This is the largest single-month spike in de-addiction cases in the district since 2007.

With such rise in cases reported during lockdown, the OOAT van started in April has proved to be a lifeline for addicts. The lack of availability of drugs during lockdown, no jobs and lack of mobility among drug dependents have resulted in this record spike. During the lockdown period (March to May), a whopping 2,160 people registered for OOAT.

From February to May 2019, as many as 893 new patients got registered at the de-addiction centre in Kapurthala. The same period in 2020 saw 2,160 patients. In April this year, 1,293 new persons were registered (more than the 2019 record of March, April and May months put together). From 6,059 cases in February 2020, the cases have risen to 8,375 till May 30.

With patients making a beeline to the de-addiction centre after the curfew, the Kapurthala district administration started mobile OOAT clinics to grapple with the huge inflow and make de-addiction medicine accessible. Villages like Lattianwal, Boot, Toti, Saincham Sandhu Chattha witnessed the largest hike.

The mobile clinics traverse 24 villages in the district. Two vans operate across the district which were flagged off by MLAs of Kapurthala, Sultanpur Lodhi, Phagwara constituencies.

Dr Sandeep Bhola said, "There have been periods of spike in the past but this year's figures have surpassed all previous records. We have never had 1,293 new patients reporting in a single month. The most common cause is the snapping of supply chain and loss of jobs and mobility during lockdown."

Deepti Uppal, Kapurthala DC, said, "The mobile OOAT clinic was started to facilitate both patients and ensure social distancing. The results have been great. We want to retain these persons for treatment so that Kapurthala remains drug-free."

A resident of Sandhu Chattha, who had been using poppy husk for many years, said, "I came back from Muscat and broke my leg. I was unable to move and wasn't able to get the medicine. This mobile van has been a blessing for me. Now, I just have to walk down the road to get the treatment."



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