Anaesthesia to the notorious addiction | Daily News


Drug-free western province in three months

Anaesthesia to the notorious addiction

The sub-title is from an article in the Daily News recently. It went onto say - Pilot project to be launched tomorrow: 75 per cent of crimes in WP are drug-related: The project aims to decrease narcotic usage by 40 per cent within the next three months. “Around 75 per cent of crimes committed within the Western Province are drug-related offences. While there have been many attempts in the past to rid the province of the drug menace, this project will galvanise public support for a comprehensive crackdown,” DIG Deshabandu Tennakoon said. “Through the intensification of the crackdown, we wish to bring down narcotic usage by 40 per cent and subsequently crimes by 20 per cent within the next three months.”

The project which envisions to clampdown on drugs from the grassroots level mostly concerns drug addicts for which plans are afoot to send nearly 500 of them for rehabilitation.

“Rehabilitation is an important facet of the fight against drugs since we will be working from the grassroots level upwards,” he said. “We will be meeting Magistrates next week on how we could streamline this process to ensure that they are swiftly sent to the centres.” The toll-free hotline has been initiated by Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel to serve 2.1 million residents in 1,177 Grama Niladhari divisions within the Gampaha district. The project draws support from rural-based anti-narcotic committees inclusive of nearly 2,000 members.

The attention to the issue by the Police is salutary. However, it’s essential to note that relief for drug use is found in the Drug Dependent Persons (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act, No. 54 of 2007. The Act provides for Compulsory admission to a Treatment Centre and for Voluntary admissions. Magistrates have a vital role in the committal, treatment and release of drug-dependent persons in terms of the related provisions of the Drug Dependent Persons (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act. In the Victorian era society locked away anyone inconvenient. For example, we still lock up beggars and homeless women in Sri Lanka. The fact that some crimes can be linked to pursuing a drug habit by poorer sections is undisputed.

How would the Police determine the drug user? Will urine samples tests determine? Do we have sufficient places for treatment? If not why not?

This article sets out options which may not be part of the efforts announced by the Police recently.


Dealing with drug issue

What is a Community Drug Problem? Drug use is first and foremost a problem for the individual drug user. A community drug problem emerges when a) there are a significant number of people engaging in problematic drug use in a particular area and b) the community does not have adequate resources to deal with the problems that arise.


Involving key sectors of the community in substance abuse

The following key stakeholders must be involved in order to develop an effective community plan to address substance abuse:

• Police

• Social service, Government and community organisation

• Health service providers (hospitals/doctors/drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres)

• Youth organisation

• Schools

• Religious institutions

• Media


Types of treatment programmes

Long-term residential treatment

Long-term residential treatment - provides care 24 hours a day, generally in non-hospital settings.

Short-term residential treatment

Short-term residential programmes provide intensive but relatively brief treatment. It is important for individuals to remain engaged in outpatient treatment programmes and/or aftercare programmes.

These programmes help to reduce the risk of relapse once a patient leaves the residential setting.

Outpatient treatment programmes

Outpatient treatment varies in the types and intensity of services offered. Such treatment costs less than residential or inpatient treatment and often is more suitable for people with jobs or extensive social supports.

Some outpatient programmes are also designed to treat patients with medical or other mental health problems in addition to their drug disorders.

Individualized drug counselling

Individualized drug counselling not only focuses on reducing or stopping illicit drug or alcohol use; it also addresses related areas of impaired functioning—such as employment status, illegal activity, and family/social relations—as well as the content and structure of the patient’s recovery programme. Through its emphasis on short-term behavioural goals, individualized counselling helps the patient develop coping strategies and tools to abstain from drug use and maintain abstinence.

Treating criminal justice-involved drug abusers and addicted individuals

Often, drug abusers come into contact with the criminal justice system earlier than other health or social systems, presenting opportunities for intervention and treatment prior to, during, after, or in lieu of incarceration. Research has shown that combining criminal justice sanctions with drug treatment can be effective in decreasing drug abuse and related crime.


An example of an empathy focused Police programme

Anaheim Police to Drug Addicts: We Will Help You

At the beginning of 2017, in an effort to connect suffering substance abusers with local Orange County drug treatment programmes, the Anaheim Police Department announced a new civic aid programme.

Anyone with a substance abuse disorder can go to the police station or contact an officer for help. From there, they will be put in touch with treatment services appropriate for their individual needs. Corollary goals of the programme, part of are to cut down on crime and reduce homelessness.

How Does the Anaheim Drug Addiction Assistance Programme Work?

To make the programme as accessible to as many people as possible, the rules are very simple:

• Anyone with a drug problem can contact a police officer or just show up at the Anaheim police station and ask for help.

• From there, participants will be put in contact with a local non-profit organisation for screening/evaluation, and then referred to an appropriate treatment programme.

• If the person is in possession of illicit substances, the police will dispose of them with no criminal charge or penalty.

There are a couple of unavoidable caveats, however – individuals who have outstanding warrants or show up intoxicated will be arrested.

Beyond that, Anaheim police officers are specially trained to respond with empathy and assistance, rather than arrest. “It’s pretty huge for someone who uses narcotics to come into the Police Department’s doors and say that they want help. We want to help them,” Chief Quezada said.

Locking up those inconvenient to society is not a sustainable solution. We have a very kind and compassionate law to address the issues. The solutions lie at the community level and require a broader coalition of intervening parties. The problem is endemic and a nuisance to the police. We nevertheless need to look at a broader set of options to address the issues. This piece has shown the options our Police could consider. 

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