KOCHI: For all these years, the successive Kerala governments failed to address addiction as a serious mental disorder and implement a sound monitoring mechanism to regulate de-addiction centres. Rather than considering addicts as psychic patients, society at large treat them as a social evil who got trapped in the web of vices due to their immaturity, arrogance and indiscipline.
Lack of adequate centres in the government sector and poor awareness about addiction and de-addiction are the main reasons that fuel the growth of private ones in the state.
Leading psychiatrist C J John said at present anyone can start a de-addiction centre in Kerala and do good business if it is tied with some kind of spirituality.
“Despite thousands of families being at the receiving end all these years due to alcohol and drug abuse, the state government has no idea about de-addiction,” said John, who criticised the government for its reluctance to take responsibility. Kerala Mental Health Authority’s (KMHA) Dr Jayaprakash K P too agreed people of the state have some stigma attached to de-addiction.
“Alcoholics and drug abusers are seen as social menace rather than patients with mental disorder. We need to understand that it’s addiction that drives them repeatedly to drugs and alcohol,” said Jayaprakash. Though the state government has been talking a lot about implementing various alcohol abstinence projects including setting up of de-addiction centres in all districts in the state for the past one year, nothing concrete has taken place so far.
State Health Department Additional Chief Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan said the government could not so far release the fund for the project to set up de-addiction centres.
“We’re looking into it. The Department of Finance is expected to release the fund to the Excise Department under the Vimukthi scheme soon,” he said.
Dr Jayaprakash said anonymity offered by private de-addiction centres push family members to take their dear ones, especially women and men from upper middle class families, to these centres.
“All government hospitals with psychiatry department offer five-day inpatient treatment for addiction. After five days of detoxification treatment, the patients are usually discharged. But the family members are not ready to take the risk of caring for of a patient during the withdrawal period in which they become violent and try to runaway.
“For their convenience, they admit the patients in private de-addiction centres which offer 30-day inpatient treatment even without a bystander,” added Dr Jayaprakash.