De-addiction business

Print edition : May 01, 2015

ASK anyone in the de-addiction business, and the chances are that they will tell you how lucrative it is. Following the very simple economic theory of demand being central to supply, a host of such centres have sprung up across the country, offering many services. The primary service they provide is to take the “problem”, or the patient, away.

“You just need to call any of the common phone number providers and ask for a de-addiction centre’s contact. You will be surprised how many centres are around,” says a Chennai-based expert associated with substance abuse issues for the past few decades. “They will come, bundle the ‘problem’ into their vehicle and take ‘it’ away,” the expert added. Most of these centres are run by recovering abusers, and they subject the addicted persons to inhuman conditions.

A death in one such centre, and the hue and cry that followed it, made the government sit up and take notice. In 2012, the Tamil Nadu government’s Social Welfare and Nutritious Meal Programme Department issued an order (G.O. (Ms.) No.30 dated March 13) appointing a “core committee” consisting of experts in the field of de-addiction to frame rules for the registration of de-addiction centres functioning in the State.

Shanthi Ranganathan, secretary, TTK Hospital, was named its chairperson. The committee had four other members and was to complete its recommendations in five sittings. Asked about the report, Shanthi Ranganathan said that the committee had already submitted its report.

The “Minimum Standards of Care for privately run de-addiction centres” lays down in detail the physical space requirements, recommends minimum criteria necessary at a detoxification centre, and issues guidelines for psychological services, counselling, re-education sessions and group therapy. The exhaustive report is yet to be implemented by the government.

R.K. Radhakrishnan

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