Rehabilitation centres in the state are reporting a slight increase in the number of patients ever since the Rajasthan government closed all poppy husk vends from April 1.
It was earlier reported that people from districts bordering Rajasthan would regularly go to Rajasthan to buy their dose. Now, many have turned to rehabilitation centres after the hit to their supply and also, due to “poor quality” of the drug which is still available in the market. Doctors, however, think that the increase is not yet significant.
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“Twenty-two days have passed since the closure of poppy husk vends (in Rajasthan), however till date I have no seen much effect. Earlier, our centre used to receive around seven to eight patients a day, which now has increased to 10-15 a day.,” said Dr Rahul Jindal who works at the de-addiction centre in Badal village in Muktsar. “We cannot yet call it a significant increase in patients. At the moment we have only one admitted patient.”
And similar was the reaction from Dr Rashmi Chawla who heads the mental health progrramme of Mukstar and is posted at de-addiction centre of Malaut in Muktsar district.” Against our usual tally of around 15 patients a day, we are receiving around 25 a day and these include patients of poppy husk and alcohol together,” she said. “So it is not a significant increase. In June 2014 we had over 250 patients per day.”
In June 2014, the Punjab Government had started a drive against drugs that had reportedly curtailed supply of drugs from other states into Punjab.
Sources said that the rather insignificant rise in number of patients indicated that stock from before the ban was imposed was being sold.
A few districts, like Fazilka, have seen a spurt in the number of patients approaching their clinics. “Today we received around 70 patients against an average of 25,” said Dr Ramneek Rana in-charge of Fazilka de-addiction centre. “For the past few days, we have been receiving three times the usual number of patients. Most are 40-plus and a majority of them are those who are used to eating poppy husk. They are not able to spend much. They claim that the husk is available but is double the price and that too is of poor quality. Hence, addicts prefer to come to our centres rather than spend so much money. We give them substitute therapy for four months and later, counsel them and motivate them to shun drugs completely.”