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June 27, 2019

PIMS receiving huge burden of drug addicts

National

June 27, 2019

Islamabad: Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) has been receiving huge burden of drug addicts at its psychiatry department as in last one month, the department has received well over 3,000 drug addicts for treatment.

There is no separate service for treatment of drug addicts at PIMS and the psychiatry department provides treatment facilities to drug addicts through its existing resources that are limited otherwise we could have managed over 10000 addicts a month as the influx is much heavy, said Head of Psychiatry Department at PIMS Professor Dr. Rizwan Taj while talking to ‘The News’ on Wednesday in connection with United Nations International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking that falls on June 26 every year around the globe.

The theme for the 2019 International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is “Health for Justice. Justice for Health” that emphasizes the integrated nature of the rights- and health-based approaches.

Professor Taj said the PIMS receives thousands of drug addicts every month but due to limited capacity, the psychiatry department is unable to manage a huge number of patients through inward treatment.

The most alarming fact is that apart from cases of heroin addiction, the number of cases of addicts of crystal methamphetamine (Ice) is continuously on the rise, he said. He added that an estimated 30 per cent of all drug addicts reaching PIMS are addicts of ‘Ice’.

He said another great concern for health experts and policy makers is that a great number of people have started using opiate based injectable painkillers as drugs. It is important that opiate based drugs contain morphine and codeine while opioids are painkillers such as morphine, methadone, buprenorphine, hydrocodone, and oxycodone and these painkillers are also used by drug addicts.

Professor Taj said the PIMS psychiatry department received well over 700 addicts using painkillers in last one month. He said to treat and manage drug addicts properly, the PIMS needs a full-time model service for rehabilitation of addicts and to safeguard addicts from getting exploited in the hands of quacks running most of the drugs rehabilitation centre in this region of the country.

It is important that there are only few public sector hospitals in the country that are providing treatment and management facilities to drug addicts by developing units in psychiatry departments.

At present, the drug addicts are being given treatment in selective hospitals in major cities including Peshawar, Lahore, Hyderabad, Karachi and the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, said Dr. Taj.

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