OST - a life changing moment, say drug abusers under treatment

The number of drug users among young teenagers in Tamenglong district of Manipur is growing, but many are unaware about the treatment available in the district, writes ViPamei.

Teenage drug addiction is a nuisance to the society and the community as a whole. The number of drug users in Tamenglong district of Manipur is growing and many youths are not only ruining their lives but also wrecking their families. But early and timely treatment can help prevent a lifetime of drug abuse, say drug abusers who are under treatment at the DROP-IN Centre, Tamenglong.

Many teenagers in the town area are taking to drugs out of curiosity or due to peer pressure. Despite knowing the health risk and disastrous consequences, they continue to depend on it as they don't have any knowledge about the treatment that is provided by the government.

One common treatment for any drug users is the Opioid Substitute Therapy (OST) and this treatment can be availed at the Tamenglong District Hospital at Duigailong, but most of the drug users and their guardians are unaware of it.

When interacting with a few drug users who are undergoing the OST treatment at the DROP-IN Centre, they expressed positively about having decided to undergo the treatment, saying it is a life-changing moment for them. They can now lead a normal life free from drugs. They are regaining their health and slowly getting back on track, all thanks to the OST treatment. “We are lucky that this treatment is available in the town itself,” they say.

In an interaction with DROP-IN Centre project director Pyarie, about the battle against drugs abusers and the treatment in the district, she shared about how this OST treatment facility came into effect in the town. She told this reporter the treatment facility was launched in the year 2015 on World Aids Day and was made functional in 2016.

The OST treatment programme in Tamenglong is operated under the Manipur State Aids Control Society (MSACS) and was first led by one doctor Irabot, but owing to the lack of OST staff at that time, the treatment was carried out at the DIC centre. After a year, in 2017, the said programme was handed to one Ajatlu who was working for MOBILE ICTC, Tamenglong. And in the year 2020, staffs were appointed and since then this treatment is being made available at the Tamenglong district hospital, Duigailong.

The DIC Tamenglong provides many useful facilities such as the needle exchange programme, condom promotion, referrals service, blood test, counselling, providing of ART treatment and consultation with the doctor are available on selected days of the week, Pyarie said. she encouraged and welcome any individual who is willing to have their blood tested and for counselling. Moreover, they give preference to those who have a history of drug abuse.

When asked if this OST Treatment is being benefitted by the users, she said dozens of drug users in the district have benefitted from it. However, many drug users and their guardians are unaware of the therapy and the number of recovered cases are low. It is only during this COVID-19 times that some have been referred for the treatment, she added.

One NK Agui, Staff of OST department, when asked about how many active patients are registered and taking the medicine regularly, she said about 87 patients are under active treatment and some of the registered patients are not checking out at the centre regularly. She encouraged the patients to bring along their guardian or parents so as to make aware of this OST treatment, as most parents are not aware of this said programme.

When interacting with a few drug users who are undergoing the OST treatment at the DROP-IN Centre, they expressed positively about having decided to undergo the treatment, saying it is a life-changing moment for them. They can now lead a normal life free from drugs. They are regaining their health and slowly getting back on track, all thanks to the OST treatment. “We are lucky that this treatment is available in the town itself,” they say.

Despite the increasing number of drug users in the district, there is no official record of the number of drugs peddlers in the town yet. Managing all types of substance abusers require professional help. And, there is an urgent need to spread more awareness on drugs menace in the region which is destroying many youngsters and their families. If the concerned authorities and the civil societies failed to take serious note of the menace and act upon it on various aspects of the issue, this social ill will eventually eat into the system and destroy the growing generation who is said to be the future of society. There is a need to spread the word and encourage any drug user to undergo the OST treatment so as not to fall victim to lifelong drug abuse and lead a healthy and normal life again. 

 

First Published:Nov. 17, 2020, 7:42 p.m.

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