Punjab govt to open 300 new Opioid Assisted Treatment centres to tackle drug addiction, check details

By: |
September 09, 2021 2:22 PM

The government has decided to launch a mega 100-day Big Bang programme to tackle drug addiction in the state.

The top officials of the state government also decided to enhance the reach of the Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) centres in the hinterlands of the state. (Representative image)

The state government in Punjab is relying on the use of alternate medication to tackle the menace of drug addiction. The government is providing alternate medicines to the addicts to wean them away from the grip of drugs, the Indian Express reported. The government headed by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is also under the fire of the opposition which is blaming the government for doing little to curb the menace. The government has decided to launch a mega 100-day Big Bang programme to tackle drug addiction in the state. A meeting chaired by CM’s Chief Principal Secretary Suresh Kumar, it was decided that a 100-day Big Bang programme will be launched to give a push to the anti-drug campaign. The top officials of the state government also decided to enhance the reach of the Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) centres in the hinterlands of the state.

What are Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) Centres?
The centres were opened by the government in the year 2017 as a one-stop place for the drug addicts. The centres provide a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone as a de-addiction medicine to the addicts who have registered at the centres. Drug addicts who are habitual consumers of opioid drugs, heroine, opium and poppy husk among others can register with the OOAT centres. The Congress party which defeated the BJP-Akali combine in the assembly elections had mentioned a solution to drug addiction in its election manifesto and the government launched the centres months after it was sworn in.

Spanning across the state there are a total of 202 government-run OOAT centres in addition to the 54 government and 224 private de-addiction centres in the state. More than seven lakh drug addicts are registered with these OOAT centres, the Indian Express reported. Consultant Psychiatrist and technical advisor to Punjab’s anti-drug Special Task Force Dr Rana Ranbir Singh told the Indian Express that the dosage of the medicine depends on the severity of drug addiction in a subject and 3-4 tablets a day are administered to the addicts on an average.

100 day Big Bang Programme
In addition to the existing 202 OOAT centres, the government is now planning to open 300 new centres to make the treatment accessible at the door-step of drug addicts. STF chief-cum-Additional Director General of Police Harpreet Singh Sidhu told the Indian Express that the initiative is aiming at making medicines nearer to the residence of addicts. Sidhu also said that the new centres will also unburden the existing 202 centres.

Why is government pinning hopes on OAAT centres?
Dr Rana told the Indian Express that broadly there are two approaches to tackling drug addiction-abstinence approach and alternate medication approach. In the abstinence approach, the addicts solely on the basis of their will-power refrain from consuming drugs whereas in the medication approach, the addicts take help of medicines to quit drugs. Dr Rana explained that the abstinence approach would have taken years of stay in the de-addiction facilities to wean away the addicts from drugs whereas the alternate medication approach has proved better in finding a lasting solution to drug addiction. Rana also said that in the abstinence approach there are chances of relapse after several months whereas the medication has proved more effective in tackling the menace.

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