GUWAHATI: After the war on drugs was launched by the Himanta Biswa Sarma-led government, the police have been quite successful in putting a check on the drug trade and supply in the State. However, de-addiction and rehabilitation of people who have become addicted to drugs and other substances have surfaced as a major cause of concern. Taking advantage of this situation, many private drug rehabilitation centres have come up in the State. With most of them lacking proper infrastructure and other facilities, there is now a big question mark over their way of functioning.
As per rule, drug rehabilitation centres must be registered under the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act. But a section of private drug rehabilitation centres in the State which have come up recently is allegedly not registered. Moreover, drug rehabilitation centres must fulfil various criteria. These centres must have trained staff, including physicians, who can use scientific methods to help drug addicts get rid of their addiction. The trained staff must be able to lend emotional support to addicts as they fight depression and emotional trauma during their de-addiction and rehabilitation process.
However, sources have alleged that as the staff in most drug rehabilitation centres are not trained, they usually use physical force when drug addicts become violent and aggressive. There are reports of many such incidents in rehabilitation centres in Guwahati where the staff has beaten the drug addicts. As per the Supreme Court's directive, drug addicts cannot be assaulted in the name of their treatment. If any drug addict becomes violent or aggressive during treatment, he must be shifted to the nearest hospital and his family must be informed. However, these rules are not adhered to by a section of private drug rehabilitation centres in the State. They allegedly take a lot of money from families for the treatment and their staff use physical force on the drug addicts during treatment.
But there are also a few rehabilitation centres run by NGOs which are genuinely helping people struggling with substance and drug abuse. One such NGO member said, "De-addiction and rehabilitation is a continuous process. Drug addicts undergo many behavioural changes. We must understand their psychology and carry out their treatment accordingly. Besides medication for treatment, we also have to keep their minds engaged through games like carrom, ludo etc.
"Most drug addicts use syringes and needles. Due to the frequent use of syringes and needles, they also develop ulcers and abscesses. So we need trained nurses to treat the ulcers and abscesses. We also have to carry out their HIV test because of multiple uses of the same syringe or needle by many people to take drugs."
When Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma declared a war against drugs, he also advocated for a drug rehabilitation policy for the State and asked the Health and Social Welfare departments to prepare a draft of the policy in consultation with various experts and stakeholders. According to official sources, the drug rehabilitation policy is in the final stage. Moreover, under the State Anti-Drugs and Prohibition Council, drug rehabilitation centres in six districts of the State, including Tinsukia, Golaghat, Kamrup (metro) and Barpeta districts, will be inaugurated on June 26. Sources further added that in future, the State Anti-Drugs and Prohibition Council is likely to monitor the functioning of the private drug rehabilitation centres.
Drug abuse is a social malady and a strong drug rehabilitation policy needs to be put into place to fight this malady.