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Challenges Persist in Combating Drug Addiction in US Nagar as Rehabilitation Efforts Lag Behind

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*Bhonpuram Khabari, Rudrapur*: In the pursuit of making the state drug-free by 2025, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami’s commitment faces a hurdle in Udham Singh Nagar district, where the battle against drug addiction continues. The Anti-Drug Task Force of the Police Department, now known as the Anti-Narcotics Task Force, has made progress in three out of the five established procedures to combat drug abuse. However, little has been achieved in terms of identifying, treating, and rehabilitating drug addicts.

While the police have taken responsibility for preventive education, awareness campaigns, and apprehending drug peddlers, they have overlooked the crucial aspect of rehabilitating those affected by addiction. Despite being provided with a list of drug users by beat officers, no action has been taken to address their treatment and rehabilitation needs. Consequently, families in the district grapple with the dire consequences of addiction, often revealed through criminal activities and the sale of household items to fund drug habits. Additionally, the existing private rehabilitation centres are unaffordable for the economically disadvantaged.

Social Activist Sushil Gava said, “Recognizing the multifaceted nature of the issue, it is crucial to involve the Social Welfare Department alongside the police. Collaboration between these entities is vital to effectively address the problem of drug addiction in the district”.

IG police Kumaon region, Nilesh Anand Bharne said, “The Social Welfare Department also plays a role in this regard and the police work in tandem with them. We have communicated with the concerned authorities for the rehabilitation of drug users”.

In a recent development, state authorities have taken a step towards addressing the issue by planning to establish two affordable rehabilitation centres in the state. This initiative aims to provide accessible and cost-effective rehabilitation services, particularly for those from financially vulnerable backgrounds. Concurrently, the government plans to regulate de-addiction centres by implementing the Mental Health Care Act. Presently, these centres operate without following guidelines, leading to concerns about their practices. The proposed Act will make it mandatory for centres to register with the State Mental Health Care Authority, and violations will result in fines ranging from Rupees 50,000 to Two lakhs. By improving treatment quality, ensuring accountability, and streamlining operations, the implementation of this Act is seen as a long-awaited step towards effective rehabilitation.

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