Addiction explosion: A grim picture of the situation in Manipur

By FrontierManipur | Published On 24th Apr, 2021, 04:24 GMT+0530

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Earlier, mostly children of affluent families took to drugs but these days with the coming in of local drug refineries, the prices have dropped considerably. What used to cost over Rs.2000/- per dose of No.4 Heroin is now available for a mere Rs.400-500.

By Sanjoo Thangjam

Manipur had become the HIV/AIDS capital of India. There’s is no denying fact about it. Thanks to Intravenous Drug Users (IDUs). But the coming in of the Manipur Aids Control Society (MACS) had helped stemmed the AIDS tide and with the introduction of ART tablets which has now become a manageable disease. But the number of drug users have increased many folds over time. This is evident from the mushrooming growth of Rehabilitation Centres across the State and most of these are managed by former drug users or rather former users without proper management committees, sort of proprietary establishments.

And while earlier mostly children of affluent families took to drugs but these days with the coming in of local drug refineries, the prices have dropped considerably. What used to cost over Rs.2000/- per dose of No.4 Heroin is now available for a mere Rs.400-500.Hence the incidence of drug addiction have started affecting the lower middle or working class as children of Rickshaw pullers and masons have started taking to it. And also the age bar has also dropped considerably with children as young as 14-15 have become drug users or should I say ‘Drug Addicts’.

However, there is no control mechanism over these Private Rehabilitation Centres. Recently, the Social Welfare Department have announced a Drugs policy asking Rehabilitation Centres to come and register themselves. But over four months have passed and no private Rehab centres have come forward to get themselves enrolled. And the Social Welfare continues to stand as a Mute spectator.

What needs to be done by the Social Welfare Department is to put its foot down and come with a rule to the extent that sans registration with it where no one can open or or run and manage Rehab Centres same as in the case with private hospitals and clinics which needs registration with the competent medical authority of the State. For without registration it can have no say in the manner these Centres are running.

The recent incident whereby a Federation of the rights of drug addicts storming a Rehabilitation Centre and beating up its Manager and indulging arson over the reported case of a staff members of the Centre “strip searching” a former drug addicts or People who use drugs (PUDs) or on the road is a pointer as to how enthusiasts quickly become Vigilantes and begin to take the law in their hands.

Of course the leaders were later hauled up by the Police and things were amicably settled between both the parties. This brings the society to the larger picture of rehabilitating the drug users. It is almost a known fact that no current drug users will come on his or her accord to be rehabilitated.

They were used to be brought by their parents and guardians. Later as the problem became more acute Meira Paibis and local youth clubs used to nab them and hand over them to the Rehab Centres who inturn would contact their family members to complete the formalities. But the recent raid on the Rehab centres have dampened the spirit of these Meira Paibis and Local Youth Clubs as they have also been reportedly told in a Meeting by these  “Do Gooders” that Meira Paibs have no right to apprehend a drug users and hand them over to a Rehab Centre for treatment.

This has given an uplift to the buoyancy of the spirit of the drug users and today one can see them injecting No.4 openly in the North BOC areas which is a haven of drug peddlers and addicts. As the addicts begun exercising their right to getting their daily fix. This is going to turn into a nightmarish situation and may soon face an explosion of drug addiction.
It is high time for the State Government to pull up its socks and direct the Social Welfare Department to come with a tough stand on the question of registration  to be a sine quo non for opening up and running of Rehab centres on one hand.

On the other, it is required for the stake holders meaning those running Rehab Centres to pool their heads together and arrive at an acceptable mechanism whereby drug addicts can be rehabilitated soon before they start getting second generation drug addicts or substance users or whatever name you might call them.

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