Five people with an alleged history of alcohol addiction have committed suicide — five days into the lockdown in Kerala — and reports point to the health woes of alcohol addicts building up into a major concern on the sidelines of the battle against COVID-19 across the state.
Reports of suicide attempts by two alcohol addicts emerged in Malappuram on Saturday besides a sudden increase in the number of admissions at de-addiction centres and mental health units at government hospitals.
While Kerala has seen restrictions on liquor in various ways in the past, this is the first time that total prohibition has come into effect in the state due to the lockdown.
Kerala Health Minister K K Shailaja said that as major government hospitals have been designated for COVID-19, facilities for treatment of liquor addicts have been arranged at family health centres and primary health centres where psychiatrists are also available. Serious cases can be referred to district or taluk level hospitals and 20 beds have been set aside in each district for liquor addicts, she said.
CEO of the state’s de-addiction programme, D Rajeev, said, “We have arranged tele-counselling facilities in three centres for alcohol addicts. All de-addiction centres have fresh admissions. On Saturday, we identified around 100 persons in a critical situation with mental problems and who urgently required medical attention. Apart from the facilities in the government sector, we would also seek the support of private de-addiction centres in all districts,” he said.
A counsellor at the state tele-counselling centre said many persons are showing withdrawal symptoms after they failed to get their daily amount of liquor. “Some have suicide tendencies, apart from suffering various health issues such shivering, sweating and dehydration. The addicts with depression are highly vulnerable,” said the counsellor.
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