July 3: The directorate of social welfare is keen on starting a helpline to assist people in getting help for drug addicts and informing the authorities about drug dealers, given the rapid increase in instances of substance abuse among youngsters here.
The department plans to do so in collaboration with NGOs involved in treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts.
During the past decade, drug abuse has increased, particularly among the young generation. Street children, in particular, are getting hooked to addictive substances in an alarming manner. In fact, one can easily notice small kids roaming along the platforms and rail tracks in Guwahati railway station sniffing Dendrite. The worst side to this situation is that their addiction to different substances has increased to such extent that they even resort to petty crimes like stealing and pick pocketing to arrange for money to buy the substances.
There are two de-addiction centres in the city but most of the time the family of an addicted person is unable to identify the symptoms of addiction and hence, fail to take the victim to a de-addiction centre or a doctor in time. The absence of any form of helpline makes its all the more difficult for affected individuals to access information regarding drug abuse.
“We do have plans to start a toll-free helpline for victims of drug abuse. The government agencies alone cannot eradicate this social evil. People will also have to get involved to fight it. The entire thing is under consideration at this moment and we plan to approach the state government soon for funds to start the helpline. We will do it in collaboration with local NGOs, which have been closely involved in de-addiction and rehabilitation of people addicted to drugs, alcohol and other substances,” said Rajiv Lochan Duarah, director of the state social welfare department.
“The sooner an addict has access to medical intervention, the better are his chances of giving up his habit. But there are many parents who are not able to understand that their child may be addicted to drugs and realisation often dawns when the damage has already been done. Even addicts themselves hesitate to access help. In such cases, a helpline will be of immense help as people will be able to access information on de-addiction and rehabilitation activities and the way to access it,” Duarah said.
Moreover, this helpline can also be used to inform the authorities about drug peddlers, who are doing good business by supplying drugs to youngsters. On many occasions, people hesitate to inform police.
“If any responsible citizen knows of any person dealing in drugs, he can report it without revealing his identity through the helpline. His identity will be kept confidential and we will be able to take action against those dealing in drugs,” Duarah added.