In three years, steep rise in number of Punjab drug addicts visiting centre

PUNJAB : There has been a significant increase in the number of drug addicts that have come to de-addiction centre at PGIMER for rehabilitation over last four years, data provided by the hospital states. In 2015, the number of addicts received at PGI from Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana, was 10,350.

In 2018, this number almost doubled with 17,159 addicts being rehabilitated at the centre in PGI. The number of addicts from Punjab has significantly increased over the years.

In 2015, 3,406 addicts were received at the de-addiction centre, while in 2018, 9,202 addicts had turned to this rehabilitation centre at PGI. According to Surendra K Mattoo, Department of Psychiatry, PGI, the reason behind increase in the number of addicts coming to the rehabilitation center, was unavailability of drugs in Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana.

Mattoo told Newsline that most of the addicts coming to the rehabilitation centre were short on drugs, thereby having no choice but to visit the rehabilitation centre for treatment.

“As we have not conducted any research on why the number of addicts from Punjab has increased over the years, it will be unethical to presume anything without a substantial evidence to back it,’’Matoo said.

He added, “As long as addicts have accesses to drugs, they do not turn up to rehabilitation centres. In some cases, when these people are caught up by police, only then they turn up at rehabilitation centers.’’

He further said, “One main reason for coming to the de-addiction centre at PGI is the availability of Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) and the fact that no medicinal charges are taken from these addicts. OST is harm reduction initiative for people, who are dependent on opioid such as heroin.”