Scourge of drug abuse and alcoholism Stories of rehab centres

The scourge of drug abuse and alcoholism, Manipur knows this and more. Some have made a complete and honest recovery from the clutches of drugs and alcohol and many have not and in between are the tales of numerous rehabilitation centres that have sprung up all over the place. Not surprising that in a place which is close to the Golden Triangle and a place plagued by violence and uncertainty, best exemplified by the continued imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, many growing youngsters and not so young adults find solace in  a make believe world spun by the toxic ‘power’ of drugs and alcohol. Natural that in such a place, rehabilitation centres should spring up all over, scripting their own tales of success and some identified with their own stories of infamy. If memory serves all right, Manipur just has to look back to April 29, 2020 wherein an inmate was reportedly beaten to death inside the sanctum sanctorum of a rehabilitation centre at Nungoi Pourabi. Go to google, click on the story and news report of the said incident carried by different newspapers published from Imphal will hit one’s consciousness. Earlier too, that is in 2019, another inmate was found dead under mysterious circumstances at another such rehabilitation centre. The latest, in which three staff of a rehabilitation centre have been picked up by police after video shots and photos of inmates being beaten went viral on the social media, is but just a continuation of the other stories that have been referred to here. Ideally rehabilitation centres should be like treatment centres, where those who are dependent on intoxicants such as drugs and alcohol are rehabilitated so that those who manage to recover can resume a normal existence as a human being. And it is imperative that there should some sort of guidelines for rehab centres, which are suited to the reality of Manipur and not some imported guidelines which may not at all be suited to the State and its people. This is where the Government needs to step in and after consulting those who are successfully running the rehabilitation centres, frame a broad set of guidelines for all to follow.
It is along this line that representatives of 70 private rehabilitation centres under the banner of Committee on Suitable Guideline for non-funded Private Rehabilitation Centres met Chief Minister N Biren Singh on February 4, 2022 and submitted a written application urging that the Manipur State Policy on Psychoactive Substances Act 2019 be implemented. Now the people have given a massive mandate to the BJP and N Biren is back as the Chief Minister, it is only right that the earlier commitment to implement said the said Act be fulfilled in letter and spirit. This is also in line with his slogan War Against Drugs. This apart the need to open so many rehabilitation centres is acknowledged and should be understood in its correct perspective and this is where the need to draw up certain guidelines becomes necessary. It is the lack of guidelines which may be said to be directly responsible for some rehab centres taking up the role of police, judge and executioner and rounding up so many forcefully and then exacting fees from the parents and guardians of the people who have been rounded up. This is where it becomes imperative for the Social Welfare Department to take the lead and get in touch with the private rehab centres to draw up a broad guidelines for all to follow. Surely not too tall an order or suggestion to follow ?