When the lockdown followed by Corona pandemic impacted almost all spheres of life, it came as boon for many families dealing with the members addicted to drugs. It may sound unusual but a renowned psychiatrist closely dealing with the drug addicted patients in Tripura dwelt on the fact.
Psychiatrist Dr. Udayan Majumder from Modern Psychiatric Hospital said that there was a surge among the drug-addicted patients in the hospital during the lockdown period and it was a 'positive sign'.
While explaining the fact, he said that there were many families struggling with the members addicted to drugs - mostly brown sugar or heroin. In spite of making the best efforts on their part, such families had repeatedly failed to bring the addicted persons under treatment - availability of substances remained the key reason.
Dr. Majumder said, "After the lockdown came into force, the supply of narcotics was affected. Now, the addicted people had money in their pockets but they were unable to go out of their home due to lockdown. Even in case someone managed to go out, the substances were hardly available. As a result, they couldn't take drugs when needed."
"Naturally, the regular drug abusers started facing severe problems. Unable to bear such problems, many of them had no other option but to visit the de-addiction centre. When they accepted the treatment, they got a better meaning of life. This is exactly how the lockdown brought a smile to many families who were earlier facing hard times," Dr. Majumder said.
After the lockdown came into force, the supply of narcotics was affected. Now, the addicted people have money in their pockets but they are unable to go out of their home due to lockdown.Giving more details, he said a Drug Treatment Clinic (DTC), the only government-run de-addiction centre in Tripura, is running in Modern Psychiatric Hospital, Narsingarh.
"As per DTC registration, around 150 and 170 new drug-addicted patients had visited the centre on an average for availing treatment in the months of April and May, 2021 respectively. Earlier, the highest number of registered patients in the same centre was only 80. So the jump is remarkable. There is a wonderful response among the patients post treatment," he added.
Dr. Majumder said that before introduction of the DTC in August 2019, the number of drug-addicted persons visiting the hospital was only 84 in 2017 and 200 in 2018. The figures had increased to 700 in 2019 (after August) and above 1000 in the last year while the number of patients registered in the DTC till May last in the current year had already crossed 1000.
Funded by AIIMS New Delhi, the DTC provides medicines to the drug-addicted patients at free of cost. A unique facility for the persons who are in an advanced stage of drug addiction is also available in the Drug Treatment Clinic.
"There are some people who are unable to come out of their addiction to brown sugar and heroin. For them, we provide Daily Dispensing Treatment. They come daily, take medicines and join their regular activities without any interruption. We don't give them medicines to take home, except for special circumstances," he said.
According to Dr. Majumder who is also the nodal officer of the DTC, at present there is a total of 64 active registered patients for daily dispensing Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST).