7 Feb 2014

Encouraging Excellence in the Field of Prevention of Substance Abuse and Rehabilitation of its Victims

Recent revelations in a  survey  done by  Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU)  that 73.5 per cent of the youth between the age of 16 to 35  in Punjab were confirmed drug addicts  has brought  once again to the centre stage the problem of drug abuse and alcoholism in our country. Punjab’s  disaster management  plan for the year 2010-2011 described the problem in the state  as  grievous  and drug addiction was   shown  under hazard category in the plan. 
It also quoted a former head of the state's Anti-Narcotics Task Force (ANTF) as saying that Punjab was teetering on the edge of an extraordinary human crisis, with an inordinately large number of youngsters hooked on to marijuana, opium and heroin, in addition to imbibing a range of prescriptive tablets.
Earlier a study, conducted by doctors of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), claimed that drug abuse has increased among youngsters in the 16-25 age groups. The study also showed that there has been an increase inOpioid dependence cases. This has led to rise in the number of cases of Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B and C, and other transmitted diseases. Injecting substances is becoming more popular amongst addicts. The National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) estimates that the number of injecting drug users in the country is over 17 lakh
     According to estimates India has at least 7.5 crore drug addicts. It is not only the drug addicts whose life is destroyed but also of their  families  and   socio economic burden of drug addiction is enormous. One of the major reason for domesticviolence  is alcohol and drug dependence. In India drug  addictionis considered a social stigma  and  many of the families hesitate  to send  such persons to  de-addiction centres. More over there is an acute shortage of de-addiction and rehab centres for the drug addicts in India.
Even worldwide according to a UN report less than one in five people who need treatment actually receive it. 
In India  400 rehabilitation centers are  supported by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE) and 122 drug de-addition programmes at the hospital settings  supported by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.  
     The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is the nodal Ministry coordinating and monitoring all aspects of drug abuse prevention. This includes assessment of the extent of the problem, preventive action, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, dissemination of information and public education. The Ministry provides community-based services for their identification, treatment and rehabilitation of addicts through voluntary agencies. The government also provides grant in aid to   NGO’s under a scheme of assistance for prevention of alcoholism and drug abuse. During the year 2011-12 a  total of 3533.44 lakh were provided to 296 NGOs for 348 projects benefitting 1lakh 24 thousand 412 people.
The Social Defence Bureau of the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment caters to the requirements of Victims of alcoholism and substance abuse. The programmes and the policies of the Bureau are aimed at equipping  these people to sustain a life of respect and honour and to become useful citizens. The Bureaualso  plays the role of a catalyst and promotes voluntary action. The State Governments, autonomous bodies, NGOs and even the corporate world are involved in formulating and implementing the policies.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, requires the government to establish, maintain and supervise centres for treatment, rehabilitation and aftercare of persons who are addicted to drugs.
 As a large number of NGO’s are also involved in this endeavour, Department of social Justice and Empowerment notified in December last year a scheme of National Awards for Outstanding Services in the field of Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse , in  order to recognize the efforts and encourage excellence in the field of prevention of substance abuse and rehabilitation of its victims.
The Scheme is applicable to Institutions and individuals working in this field. Under the scheme awards will be presented, every year, to the most effective or outstanding services rendered as individuals as well as institutions in the prevention of  Abuse of Alcohol; Narcotic Drugs; Psychotropic Substances and other addictive substances
The awards will be presented every year, on the 26th June, which has been declared by the United Nations, as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The awards will be given in ten different categories to institutions and individuals. The awards will include cash prize ranging from onelakh to five lakh rupees. The awards will be for:

I.                   Institutional Category
·         Best Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts (IRCA) for providing rehabilitation services   to alcoholics and drug users.
·         Best Regional Resource and Training Centre (RRTC) providing exemplary contribution in the field of prevention of addiction.
·         Best Panchayati Raj or Municipal Body working for prevention of alcoholism and
·         Substance (drug) abuse.
·         Best Educational Institution doing outstanding works in Awareness generation and prevention of alcoholism and Substance (drug) abuse.
·         Best Non-Profit organization like an NGO or Self Help Group, Trust or community based set up.
·         Best Research or Innovation for an Institution which has conducted research on issues related to addiction and has developed new techniques on treatment and preventive modules, etc or  have undertaken innovative measures for prevention of addiction and evolved techniques to identify early phase addicts.
·         Best Awareness Campaign for outstanding awareness campaign through consistent and comprehensive coverage on addiction related issues on sustained basis, to be awarded to any institution or organisation other than an educational institution.

II. Individual Category

·         Outstanding individual achievement by a professional such as general duty or specialist medical doctor  including psychiatrist, treatment and rehabilitation professional, psychologist, clinical psychologist, skill trainer who has made outstanding achievement in the field of prevention of alcoholism and substance (drug) abuse and rehabilitation of addicts.
·         Outstanding individual achievement by a nonprofessional such as activist, students leader, etc. who has made outstanding achievement in the field of prevention of alcoholism and substance (drug) abuse and rehabilitation of addicts
·         Former Addict, who has done outstanding work in the field of awareness generation or de-addiction or rehabilitation for a former addict.

Besides the grant in aid and the scheme of national awards the Ministry together with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan(NYKS) an autonomous body of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, also implemented a yearlong pilot project on awareness and education for the Prevention of Drug Abuse & Alcoholism. The project was implemented in 3000 villages under 75 Blocks of 10 districts in Punjab and 750 villages under 25 Blocks in 7 districts in Manipur.  Punjab and Manipur are the two states worst affected by the menace of drug abuse

While the government and the NGOs  are making efforts in this critical area  of  prevention, treatment and rehabilitation  of victims of drug abuse there is need  for the people to change their attitude towards  the addicts  of alcohol or substance drugs. Instead of isolating them they should  send  them to  rehabilitationcentres  so that they are  mainstreamed in the society.

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