Even as the state has launched its own mental health helpline, in the private sector too initiatives have been launched to help counter the rising addiction to drugs among teenagers.
Indrajit Deshmukh, who runs rehabilitation centre Practical Life Skills at Baner, said there had been a rising addiction to mephedrone, a variant of methamphetamine, among teenagers in Pune. “In just one week, we admitted two boys–aged 16 and 17 years–and a girl aged 19 for drug addiction. We have also admitted another 29-year-old at the centre who even started peddling drugs to support his own habit,” said Deshmukh.
The teenagers reported that they experienced heightened awareness and focus when they took the drug. They also felt euphoric and less irritable when they were on the drug high. The high, according to them, lasted anywhere between 45 minutes to three hours. To support their habit, they have stolen money and jewellery from home.
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According to Deshmukh, the teenagers also claimed that almost all their friends had tried the new drug and preferred it to cocaine as it was cheaper and gave a better high. The drug is available in the Pune market for Rs 800-1,000.
Deshmukh stressed on the need to spread awareness about the drug menace and warn children against the ill effects of the deadly drug.
Meanwhile, 10 days since the mental health helpline was launched at District Hospital, Aundh, as many as 100 calls have been attended to. “A majority of them pertain to women’s problems but we have received call asking for help on drug and substance abuse related issues,” said Niraja Banker, manager, Operations at the state health call centre.
The 104 health advice call centre is operated as a public private partnership between the National Health Mission and Piramal Swasthya.
The state decided to launch toll free number 104 to provide mental health services too, and Health Minister Dr Deepak Sawant had attended the first call from a student in Ratnagiri, who was counselled on how to deal with exam-related stress.
The helpline can be accessed round-the-clock on the number 104. “We at present have two seats for mental health, which are manned by mental health counsellors from 7 am to 9 pm every day,” Banker said.
According to Dr H Chavan, Deputy Director, Pune Circle, the helpline was part of the outreach services which would also send field workers to people who needed urgent intervention.
The helpline aims at counselling people scientifically if he/ she has suicidal tendencies, sudden outbursts or is mentally disturbed. People in need of psychiatric help usually sought recourse to alcohol, drugs and other addictions which further aggravated their problem, Chavan said, adding that the helpline aimed at providing a thorough counselling.