Punjab is all set to get its first government-run women drug de-addiction centre in the state. The 15-bedded centre, which is likely to become operational by next month, will come up in Kapurthala district.
Sources in the government said the aim to setup the centre is to provide women addicts a “friendly environment”, while giving them “comprehensive treatment.”
Currently, no government facility exists in the state which is meant exclusively for women drug addicts. Officials said that the centre would admit patients like just like any other drug de-addiction centre which are operational in the state.
“In the centre, all those addicts who are having the problem of substance abuse or dependence, will be provided treatment,” said a senior health official. He said the government has already approved the proposal and now the process is on to make the centre operational.
The health official added that “till now, the focus has remained on providing various treatment options for men”, and no treatment centre had been established for women, but this new facility was set to provide much “required relief to the women addicts in the state”.
Interestingly, the Punjab health department does not have any concrete stats about the total number of women drug addicts in the state. As per the Punjab Opiod Dependence Survey (PODS), conducted between February to April 2015 by an NGO and AIIMS, New Delhi, the state has nearly one per cent women as opiod dependents.
Doctors said that a facility exclusively for women was needed. “Since there is no facility available for the women addicts, they don’t prefer to visit for treatment because of several issues including privacy. We have plans for 15-bedded centre, but if required the bed strength would be increased,” said Dr Sandeep Bhola, psychiatrist at the civil hospital in Kapurthala, who is involved with this project.
When asked about the reason why women drug-addicts are not visiting the existing centres for treatment, Dr Bhola said the stigma kept them away from visiting the health facilities. “We are hopeful that this facility will bring patients from across the state,” he said.
Currently, Hermitage, a private women drug de-addiction centre in Amritsar is also functional, for the last one year. Experts at the centre, however, said more centres were needed in the state.
“Around four to five women drug addicts stay admitted at our centre,” said Dr J P S Bhatia, addiction psychiatrist at Hermitage.
“There is a lot of demand for women drug de-addiction centres. If government is planning to open one, it is much needed,” he added.
Punjab’s Health Minister Bram Mohindra told The Indian Express that the initiative to open first women drug de-addiction centre was a “step towards making the state drugs free”.