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Treatment facilities for drug addicts insufficient

Treatment facilities for drug addicts are not sufficient against their huge number in the country though the government has taken zero tolerance against drug abuse.

Official data show only 199 beds in four drug addiction treatment centres are available for a total number of 7 million drug addicts in the country.

The matter has come to the fore during the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking today.

Many said the authorities concerned have turned a blind eye to building hospitals amid the growing number of drug addicts.

The government has been trying to address the social menace for long, but its attempt seems to go in vain as different groups of people, especially youths, take drugs, resulting in deaths from serious diseases.

There are only four government-run treatment centres with only 199 beds, dedicated for the drug addicts, in four divisions — Dhaka, Rajshahi, Khulna and Chattogram.

An available record from the Department of Narcotics Control shows that the country has about 7 million addicts, who take drugs due to its availability in every nook and corner.

Each drug user at least spends some Tk 56,560 to Tk 90,800 in a year, the record says.

Amid such a grim situation, Bangladesh is going to observe International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking today as elsewhere in the world.

Sanjay Kumar Chowdhury, additional director general of the DNC, told the daily sun that the department sent a project proposal to the Planning Ministry to construct a 100-bed treatment centre in every district and 200-bed in each division.

“The proposal is expected to be passed soon. The construction work of the centres will begin within a year,” he said.

After the completion of the construction work, the treatment crisis will be resolved, he added.

Some 98,437 patients have taken treatment in the four treatment centres in the last six years from 2014 to 2019.

Of them, 10,364 took treatment in 2014, 9,504 in 2015, 12,815 in 2016, 14,688 in 2017, 25,143 in 2018 and 25,923 in 2019.

The DNC also provides a data of 329 privately-run rehabilitation centres with 4,093 beds, which are appeared to be a cash cow for earning extra from the families of the addicts.

Some 57,522 drug addicts have received treatment from those centres in the last six years.

Of them, 4,968 took treatment in 2014, 6,912 in 2015, 9,397 in 2016, 10,667 in 2017, 12,892 in 2018 and 12,686 in 2019.

Relatives of drug addicts say as private centres charge huge amounts of money, it is not possible for them to receive treatment there.

The Association for the Prevention of Drug Abuse says among 7.5 million drug addicts — 80 percent of them are youths. Some 50 percent of them are involved in various criminal activities.

It says some 29,990 individuals ran drug business in 2019 alone as they can earn hefty amount of money overnight.

Around 160,000 drug traders are operating their businesses across the country, the statistic said.

It also says a drug user spends around Tk 56,560 to Tk 90,800 in a year. The total drug addicts annually spend about Tk 50,000 crore on taking drugs.

The drug users take opium, heroin, pethedine, cocaine, ganja, chorosh, bhang, hashish stimulant, yaba, ectasy, viagra, sleeping pill, tranquilizer, diazapam, cough syrup, phensidyl dexpotent and many more.

Of them, Yaba is mostly used in our country, which has become a headache over the last few years.

Apart from the old Cox’s Bazar route, several routes in Sylhet and Patuakhali are now being widely used to smuggle Yaba tablets, DNC sources said.

A number of drug dealers arrested recently have given the secret information to DNC officials.

According to the DNC, about 17.50 crore of Yaba tablets have been seized from various parts of the country from 2014 to May, 2020. Of those, over 31.17 lakh have been seized amid the Covid-19 pandemic from January to May.