‘Drug abuse treatment must be case specific’

Pune: On June 26th Wake Up Pune organized a talk show at Wadia College in response to the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Drug Trafficking. Various panelists expressed their views and experiences in a talk show on the topic Do drugs control your life?.

Times News Network

Pune: Contrary to the perception that instances of HIV/AIDS are on the rise, scientist Raman Gangakhedkar from the National Aids Research Institute (NARI) said on Friday that there is no evidence to suggest that there are new HIV positive cases in the city in the last few years. “In fact, amongst commercial sex workers, the instances are down by almost 50 per cent,” he said.
He was one of the panelists at a talk show on the topic Do drugs control your life?. The event was organised by Wake up Pune, a coalition of various NGOs and civil societies working towards spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS, at Nowrosjee Wadia College on the occasion of International Anti-Narcotics Day.
However, he cautioned that even though this was positive news and an indicator of the success of various awareness programmes, there was no room for complacency.
The other panelists were Mukta Puntambekar, deputy
director at the Muktangan deaddiction centre; Rohini Virathan, addictionologist at the Seventh Adventist Hospital; Elizabeth Selhore, director of the Sahara deaddiction centre; Dwijen Smart, a representative of Narcotics Anonymous and director of the health portal aarogya.com; and Prafulla Mohite, counsellor from Muktangan Mitra.
Exploring the nexus between HIV/AIDS, intravenous (IV) drug users and tuberculosis, Elizabeth Selhore said: “The sharing of infected needles is a major cause for the spread of AIDS. And tuberculosis is one of the opportunistic diseases that afflicts HIV positive people. I would like to warn young people against the abuse of drugs, but if one can’t give it up, at least ensure that you use clean, new syringes.”
She added, “It is important that treatment of drug abuse be case specific. Also, the addict needs to be involved in their own treatment and rehabilitation.”
Stressing the importance of socio-vocational rehabilitation,
Dwijen said, “The treatment will not work unless we take into account the various needs of the addict. What is the point in treating the person, and then letting them onto the streets? The stigma associated with drug abuse is very high, and not many people would want to be associated with addicts.”
Selhore added, “There is no place for drugs in the community, but there should be a place for the user. Treating the addiction does not mean stigmatizing him.”
Elaborating on the role of counselling and treatment in deaddiction centres, Puntambekar and Mohite said that the confidentiality of the drug users who tested positive for HIV is strictly maintained.
The occasion also marked the launch of community aarogya.com, an online social network and e-support group for those seeking to give up drugs. “Not only is the identity of the user protected, but he/she may avail of online medical advice, counselling and support,” said Dwijen Smart, director of aarogya.com.

FAST FACTS
Sharing of infected needles is a major cause for the spread of AIDS and tuberculosis is one of the opportunistic diseases that afflicts HIV positive people
The treatment for each drug addict must be case specific. The drug addict must be involved in his/her own treatment and rehabilitation
Unless the needs of the addict are taken into account during the treatment, all efforts to rehabilitate him/her will be unsuccessful
Confidentiality of the drug users who test positive for HIV must be maintained



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