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Kerala bid to provide alcohol to addicts with doctor's prescription stayed by HC

This is a recipe for disaster, the court orally observed. How can alcohol withdrawal syndrome be treated with alcohol itself, the court asked the state government.

Published: 02nd April 2020 02:10 PM  |   Last Updated: 02nd April 2020 02:10 PM   |  A+A-

A mask-clad man buys alcohol from a Bevco outlet in Kochi before the lockdown| A Sanesh

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Tipplers in Kerala hoping to get a doctor's prescription for getting liquor to contain withdrawal symptoms will have to wait.

The Kerala High Court on Thursday stayed for three weeks the order of the state government to provide liquor on the prescription of a doctor for countering withdrawal symptoms.

A division bench comprising Justice AK Jayasankaran Nambiar and Justice Shaji P Chaly issued the order on the petition filed by TN Prathapan, MP, challenging the government's decision.

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The court observed that no document in medical literature supports such a prescription. This is a recipe for disaster, the court orally observed. How can alcohol withdrawal syndrome be treated with alcohol itself, the court asked the state government.

According to Prathapan, the decision will dangerously affect the social fabric of the state. The government has implemented many projects to treat addicted persons showing withdrawal symptoms. Many NGOs and private institutions are also providing services. About 14 de-addiction centres and six counselling centres are in Kerala under the Vimukthi mission. The government should take steps to effectively implement these projects rather than making liquor available, he said.

Dr. N Dinersh, National Chairperson, National Mental Health Wing (NMHW) of the Indian Medical Association also approached the court against the government move. The petition stated that the decision of the government to supply liquor to patients who are suffering from Alcoholic Withdrawal Syndrome (AWS) with a doctor’s prescription was unethical. There were scientific ways to treat those with severe withdrawal symptoms. Giving them liquor is not the solution. It depends on how severe the symptoms are. Some people can be treated at home, but others may need supervised care in a hospital setting to avoid potentially dangerous complications such as seizures.

Since there are various treatments and scientific methods available for AWS, it is highly illegal and unethical to advise patients to approach doctors not for treatment, but for certificates or prescriptions for getting alcoholic drinks from BEVCO outlets during the lockdown period.

The lockdown should be used as an opportunity to treat those who are suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. The petitioner also sought to quash the order of the government.

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