After a gap of more than two years when it was converted into a First-Line Treatment Center in the fight against the pandemic, the Vimukthi de-addiction center of the Excise department operating out of the Muvattupuzha General Hospital has resumed in-patient (IP ) services.
The move assumes significance in the wake of the surging Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) cases in the districts and the reopening of schools considering the ever-increasing vulnerability of youngsters to drugs. The service of the de-addiction center had been restricted to outpatients (OP) alone since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Since the resumption of IP services last Saturday, three persons had been admitted out of which two had since been discharged. “We have 10 beds at the center now, including two reserved for juveniles. Efforts are on to increase the number to 20 though space constraints remain a hurdle,” said Faris Basheer, medical officer at the centre.
The center follows a 21-day treatment protocol for inpatients depending on the severity of the issue. It starts with a psychological education to analyze the problems of patients followed by a 10-day detoxication. The psychological therapy starts once the patient calms down followed by a relapse prevention session.
“We have noticed an uptick in the issues caused by MDMA, a premium synthetic drug, in addition to cannabis. We attend about 12-24 cases a month in the OP section. Prior to the suspension of inpatient services, we used to get 10-12 cases in a month,” said Mr. Basheer.
Shijo Antony, a counsellor with Vimukthi, said that while the State undoubtedly remains in the grip of drug menace, a clear picture on how worse it may turn with the reopening of schools may emerge within a couple of months.
“Only recently we had two tenth standard students who turned to ganja under peer group influence a few months ago. In the past, youngsters used to start smoking cigarettes clandestinely but now ganja seems to have replaced it. The danger of drug rackets using children as peddlers considering that they would be able to evade strict punishments on account of being juveniles remains a clear danger,” he said.
The de-addiction centre, which was launched in 2018, has since then tended to 6,300 in the OP section in addition to 169 admissions. Alarmingly, over 300 children aged below 15 years and over 350 children aged between 15 and 18 years had been treated at the centre.
The center has a 10-member staff, including a psychologist and psychiatric social worker. OP functions between 9 am and 4 pm