Kerala de-addiction figures throw up an uncomfortable possibility

A senior Excise officer said the number of drug addicts was increasing as was that of those seeking treatment.

Published: 13th December 2018 01:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th December 2018 01:52 AM   |  A+A-

drugs, representational image

Image for representational purpose only

Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Familiar with the Bollywood flick 'Udta Punjab', which was loosely based on the drug abuse in Punjab? Well, it seems 'Udta Kerala' – not a movie, but the idea – could be a possibility.

For since their launch in November, government de-addiction centres in the state have seen 564 severe drug and alcohol addicts taking up the de-addiction programmes offered there. The Excise and Health Departments set up 14 the de-addiction centres in the state under the 'Vimukthi' project to tackle the drugs problem crippling the state.

Of the 564 people who underwent the programme, 49 were 'heavy addicts' and had to be hospitalised for a minimum of 15 days. Excise sources said another 504 people were treated as out-patients. Kottayam district had the highest number of outpatients at 89, followed by Thiruvananthapuram at 75. In 11 cases, the courts directed the addicts to undergo de-addiction, failing which their bails would be annulled. Palakkad had the highest number of inpatients at 18, followed by Kollam at 10.

“Addiction to narcotics is on the rise and more people are now approaching government facilities for de-addiction as it is free of cost and effective,” said Additional Excise Commissioner (Enforcement) A Vijayan.

Of late, the state has been witnessing severe substance abuse. According to Excise Minister T P Ramakrishnan, drugs worth Rs 600 crore were seized in the state in the past six months alone. Since the
LDF Government came to power, more than 14,000 cases were registered under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS).

A senior Excise officer said the number of drug addicts was increasing as was that of those seeking treatment.

“The number – 564 – is in the government sector. If you count those who got treatment from private facilities, the number will increase tremendously. This is a positive sign, as people are addressing their issues.

However, the magnitude of the dread that drug abuse poses should properly be understood,” he said.

It seems the government has taken note of this. Hence, they are planning to start a massive de-addiction complex, sprawling over 100 acres, in Kozhikode. The centre will be modelled on the lines of Bengaluru-based NIMHANS.

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