Moga: OPD for rehabilitating drug addicts started. In yet another initiative to curb the drug menace in Punjab, the Captain Amarinder Singh government on Thursday launched a kind of outdoor patient department (OPD) service for drug addicts from this district. Health Minister Brahm Mohindra, who kickstarted the pilot project of the Outpatient Opioid Assisted Treatment (OOAT) at the government rehabilitation centre at Janer village, said it is also being launched in Tarn Taran and Amritsar districts. “After getting the success rate of the project, it will be started in other districts of Punjab soon,” he added.Under the OOAT project, a free dose of Buprenorphine (an opioid) will be given to the patients as an alternative to the drug they have been addicted to. The project is similar to the programme started by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) to rehabilitate the injectable drug users (IDUs). If we go through the past records, Buprenorphine, which is said to be more potent than opium, has become a free dope for the patients registered with the opioid substitution treatment (OST) Centre in Moga.Out of an average of 300 patients, who come daily to get administered with the Buprenorphine dose for the past five years, only 20 patients have discarded the treatment, not because they got cured, but due to unknown reasons. Talking to the media at the sidelines of the function, Mohindra said, “I know that after getting a dose, patients keep sitting in the hospital for the whole day, but this is an alternative to the drug they are addicted to. We can’t abruptly stop them from taking drugs. We have to give them an alternative and this is the only way to rehabilitate them.”He said that under the OOAT project, patients will be registered online and authorities will keep a record of even a single dose of the opioid being given to a patients so that he cannot misuse or resale it. Officials said the Special Task Force (STF), which was formed to eliminate the drug menace, will also keep tabs on these centres. Mohindra, while addressing the gathering, said, “The previous SAD-BJP government had a directionless policy, which resulted in a spike in drug addiction in the state. Our government is bound to eliminate drugs from the state. We will also fill the vacant posts in all hospitals soon,” he said.
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