Vijayawada: The medical, health and family welfare department in association with the State police has decided to expand the rehabilitation exercise, to provide healthy extended life to the drug addicts.
The absence of an authorised rehabilitation centre in the Capi-tal region has prompted both Health and Home ministries to take up the cause of the socially challenged drug addicts. According to available statistics, more than 400 injected drug users (IDUs) in Vijayawada city are having a tough time in giving up their addiction.
If in need of medication and counselling, they have no option but to travel all the way to Hyderabad or Visakhapatnam. If everything goes well, institutions like Gates Foundation may also join this programme, according to sources.
While Andhra Pradesh State AIDS Control Society (APSACS) says the number is around 400, unofficial statistics reveals that Vijayawada city itself has around 6,000 IDUs, under the influence of sedative drugs like Fortwin and Pentwin along with oral intaking drugs like ganja and inhaling drugs like whiteners in Vijayawada. There are thousands more who are yet to be identified.
Most of the IDUs want to get rid of addiction. But, here in Vijayawada, they are not getting proper counselling and support to help them. The only institution mainly focusing and working on prevention of communicable diseases in Vijayawada has no adequate equipment or expertise, in this particular subject, which an official from APSACS also has confirmed.
Earlier, the addiction was worst hit to the sections like rag-pickers, destitutes, auto drivers and others belonging to poor economic background. But, now in the capital city, people from middle class to rich are also becoming IDUs including hundreds of college students, who are mostly from the abutting engineering colleges of Guntur and Vijayawada, Dr K. Sudheer, who is into counselling, told this correspondent.
According to an engineering student of fourth year, who started using drugs as well as ganja when he was 20-years-old, most of the IDUs are injecting drugs mostly Fortwin.
Frequently, he uses ganja also, which he used to get from Vijayawada railway station surroundings. These sedative drugs are safer, as no one can identify, according to a 40-year-old working with a wholesale cloth merchant. He was introduced this by a businessman from Kolkata, who is highly educated.
Parents of addicts face ostracism
Parents of the drug addicts are facing lot many difficulties from the areas where they are living. Sometimes, they are subjected to ostracisation also, which is a painful thing, a parent told this correspondent.
It is astonishing that such IDUs’ presence is very much felt near the campus of Dr NTR University of Health Sciences, in Vijaya-wada. A physician, who is addicted to these drugs, when he is on ‘high’ shared a few interesting points about IDUs. He said that the IDUs will go to any extent when they are under the influence of drugs.
As per his observation, there are around 40,000 IDUs across all the 13 districts in the state. Earlier, there was an apprehension that only rag-pickers are subjected to drug addiction, but now the scenario has changed, he said, and added that upper middle class and high class people in the age group of 18-35 are attracted towards this.
In fact, he has been undergoing treatment at a reputed corporate hospital at Hyderabad, to come out of the habit. The police too are unable to keep a record of drug users in the absence of rehabilitation centres which help the former in bringing down the drug usage.
While one NGO is working on rehabilitating the IDUs in the capital region, there are three more working in the rest of the state, mainly in Visakhapatnam Agency, Kadapa and Chittoor districts. The NGOs are supposed to work under guidelines of National AIDS Con-trol Organisation, through Target Inter-vention programme.
The IDUs are getting sedative drugs which are abundantly available in black market of pharma in the city, which is even in the notice of the drug control department. Speaking about it, a senior bureaucrat said that the ministries of health and home affairs are working in agility to find out a quick and manageable solution to save the lives of the youth.
When contacted, a middle-level police officer in the city said that the police are already burdened with the law and order issues, and the IDUs also add nuisance angles to the crimes....