Millennium Post

The great drug detox

The crackdown began following the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal’s pitiable performance in the last Lok Sabha elections, which brought to light the government’s failure to curb drug addiction which had become such a major issue. According to the police, after the crackdown, availability of drugs had been reduced to nil in the past one month. According to the police, there is complete break in the supply chain to the consumers and there is no availability of drugs on the streets. This has left the addicts with no option but to go to the de-addiction centres for treatment.

As many as 18,000 consumers have been motivated and mobilised to create awareness. The police have launched a campaign for rehabilitation of the addicts from 5 July. Gurdeep Singh, a government teacher in a primary school said: ‘Senior officers are visiting every village and several rehabilitation programmes are being worked out at the grassroots level which include exercise, sports and other activities to keep them occupied so that they do not attempt any relapse.

Teens under grip
The crackdown has also revealed that two out of every 10 persons admitted to de-addiction centres are below 16 years of age. Most begin with tobacco and poppy husk before moving on to marijuana and finally heroin-derivatives. Several teens have also been found inhaling ink correction fluids and tyre repair solutions. Dr PD Garg, who heads the psychiatric department of Guru Nanak Dev Hospital in Amritsar said: ‘Children who begin with such gateway substances gradually get hooked to hardcore drugs. Even girls are addicted. I am checking around 40 drug addicts every day who are between 15 and 40 years of age.’ Children are getting addicted because of their mothers’ addiction.

While there are no official records to indicate how many babies have been born to drug-addict mothers, the problem is growing in a menacing manner. The newest age group in focus now is between 9 and11 years. Mostly from poor families, they are easy targets of drug- and substance-peddlers.

Chemical drugs
Consumption of intoxicants with a pharmaceutical origin too has become a major problem spilling over to the neighbouring state of Himachal Pradesh. Synthetic drugs are being used more in the areas bordering Haryana. Meanwhile, HP health minister Kaul Singh Thakur has clearly rejected the claims of the Punjab government that drug firms were illegally smuggling the pharma-based intoxicants in the state. ‘It’s absolutely wrong to blame pharmaceutical units in Himachal for Punjab’s drug menace. Rather, it’s the other way round. The drug mafia active in Punjab was trying to make inroads in Himachal Pradesh,’ says Thakur.

Centre’s aid
Asserting that it has zero tolerance policy towards drug smuggling, the Punjab government has blamed the Centre and other states for not taking adequate steps to check drug inflow, saying Punjab is being used as transit route for drugs. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has said that Punjab is fighting the ‘nation’s war against drugs’ and had achieved ‘tremendous success’ of snapping the supply lines and nabbing not just the drug kingpins but also their peddlers.

The Centre has stepped in announcing a sum of Rs 50 crore as its initial contribution towards the setting up of de-addiction centres in the state. Announcing the measure in Lok Sabha during a debate on the general Budget, finance minister Arun Jaitley had said that nation-wide efforts are needed to resolve the problem of drug addiction. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal has been alleging that, after they are smuggled across from Afghanistan, drugs find their way into Punjab due to porous borders with Pakistan.

Badal had also raised the issue with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai during his visit last year to Jalandhar. After drawing flak from all corners for their lackadaisical approach towards curbing the menace, the state government is now all set to construct 22 rehabilitation centres — one in each district — to enable drug addicts to give up the habit.
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