Kalimpong, May 15: A small step towards a drugs free world.
It has been a long-standing grievance among experts that while the problem of drug abuse has assumed alarming proportions in the hill town, very little has been done by the civil society to help control the menace. However, many believe that the opening of a drop-in centre for drug addicts here today marked a move in the right direction.
The centre, located in the heart of the town, has been set up by World Vision, an NGO working in the field of rural development. The organisation has roped in people from diverse backgrounds, including recovering addicts, to make a success of its initiative.
“Everyone knows that substance abuse is a major problem, but no one comes forward to help the addicts. We decided to set up such a centre after some drug abusers approached us on their own. To begin with, the centre will have one counsellor and two peer educators (read recovering addicts),” said Biju Abraham, programme manager of World Vision.
In the second phase, the NGO plans to set up a detoxification centre at Algarah, about 15 km from here.
Besides providing a place for addicts to receive free counselling, the centre proposes to carry out advocacy meetings and awareness campaigns. It will also conduct a survey with the help of recovering addicts to get an accurate profile of the people who are currently indulging in substance abuse.
The NGO will also fund vocational training programmes for addicts to bring them into the mainstream, besides setting up self-help groups. “In the past, we have imparted vocational training to addicts from the Kripa Foundation in Darjeeling, and the results have been very good,” said Brother Johnny, who runs the Don Bosco Training Institution here.
Jigme, a recovering addict and a technical volunteer at the centre, said many addicts undergoing rehabilitation relapse into drug abuse in the absence of employment avenues. “In fact, not all addicts can even afford the rehabilitation programmes. This centre will enable us to motivate abusers to reform,” he added.
While there is no statistics available on drug addicts here, their number is believed to be fairly large. Sources said the number of shadow users, or closet addicts, is much higher than recognised addicts. This is especially so among the affluent classes and women.
Students, too, are taking to drugs in a big way, said Yusuf (23), another recovering addict. “Nitrogen ten is their most preferred drug, while spasmo-proxyvon and brown sugar are popular among other addicts,” he said.