Punjab drug menace: A fresh political row has erupted over the actual number of drug addicts in the state. Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh has come up with a study which reveals estimates of the numbers of opioid addicts from two separate surveys. The figures contradict Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s claim that 70 per cent of Punjab’s youth were hooked to drugs, according to Indian Express report. Rahul Gandhi said this while addressing a gathering in Chandigarh in October 2012, IE reported.
One survey in the study, Epidemiology of Substance Use and Dependence in the State of Punjab, states that there were 1.7 lakh addicts; the other survey said a nearly 60% higher estimate, at 2.7 lakh. The smaller of these numbers represents 0.89 per cent of Punjab’s adult population; the larger, 1.41 per cent.
On May 5, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had set up a two-member committee to prepare a de-addiction and rehabilitation plan for drug addicts in the state. The committee has been set up after studying the outreach model suggested by an eminent American drug therapist and consultant. Underlining his commitment to eradicate the menace of drugs, backed by rehabilitation of the patients, the Chief Minister acted on the recommendations of Dr Kanwar Ajit Singh Sidhu to announce the setting up of a panel to study and consider the feasibility of the implementation of the Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) programme, proposed by the US-based expert, according to PTI report.
CM Amarinder has asked the two-member committee, comprising Principal Secretary, Medical Education and Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, to work closely with PGI specialists to develop a focused strategy to strengthen the states network of drug de-addiction and rehabilitation centres, PTI had reported.