Punjab govt faces tough time dealing with drug addicts

An astounding sudden surge in the number of drug addicts in Punjab has left the state grappling with unexpected odds. The number of drug addicts flocking various de-addiction centres in Punjab for treatment had crossed a whopping over 70,000 till Saturday.

De-addiction centres are working in full capacity, but the wherewithal at these places arguably may not be good enough to deal with this burgeoning crisis of addicts.

The patient crowd far outnumbers the in-patient capacity at many of these centres in Punjab.

Until recently, many of these drug addicts had been living a life in hibernation, working out means, fair or foul, to purchase drugs clandestinely from narcotic paddlers.

But, the abrupt ground swell of drug addicts is largely being viewed as an outcome of the crackdown by the Punjab Police who have snapped major drug supply lines in the state.

With supply chains going down, addicts facing withdrawal symptoms for want of drugs are left with little choice but to come out in the open and avail treatment at de-addiction centres.

Punjab Police personnel tasked with cracking the whip on drug paddlers are also pursuing a new role to help addicts.

They are touring every village in the state to motivate and mobilise people hooked on drugs to reach de-addiction centres.

Official figures suggest that about 18,000 such people have benefited from this recent initiative of the state police.

In fact, the crisis started to show initial signs of escalating into a major problem area for the state government in the run up to the general elections in Punjab in April.

That was the period when massive recoveries of high-priced heroin and other drug substances were made from Punjab boundaries given the stepped up vigil in wake of the imposition of the model code of conduct.

The ECI too was baffled at the magnitude of such recoveries around elections. But as supply of drug substances to its user base began to dry up in April ahead of elections, de-addiction centres were left dealing with a huge surge of addicts facing withdrawal symptoms.

Just that the beginning of the crisis is now at a new all-time high.

Rehabilitation of dopers is another major issue at hand, which is why the state police – under incumbent DGP Sumedh Singh Saini – have now pitched in with a task, perhaps, it may be unfamiliar to.

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