Baramulla, Oct 10: Breathing a new hope into the lives of several substance abusers , Baramulla's Opioid substitution therapy centre is acting as a savour for the drug addicts.
Twenty-year-old Showkat (name changed) has been seeking treatment at the newly established Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) center situated in the densely populated Bagh-e-Islam area of old town Baramulla for the last six months.
He is among the one hundred patients who regularly visit the center for free medication, counseling, and necessary measures.
Dr. Parvaiz Masoodi, Medical Superintendent of AHGMC Baramulla and the nodal officer of the OST in old town Baramulla, stated that approximately one hundred patients receive opioid substitution therapy free of cost.
In 2018, Showkat faced academic setbacks, leading to depression. He started engaging in substance abuse as a coping mechanism.
"To ward off the depression, I started taking drugs as my family, relatives, and friends were teasing me for failing in the examination. I couldn't deal with it," Showkat told Rising Kashmir.
Within a month, Showkat found himself trapped in the dark web of drug addiction.
However, he expressed gratitude to the health department and counselors at the OST center for helping him overcome substance abuse.
Dr. Parvaiz mentioned that Showkat was a consistent drug user, but with dedicated treatment, he successfully overcame drug abuse in six months.
"The maximum youth registered with the center are in the age group of 20. Patients are given a maintenance dose for three months. While changes are observed in the first month, it takes almost three months for them to fully recover," added Dr. Parvaiz.
Eighteen-year-old Danish (name changed) receives his Buprenorphine dose at the OST center at PHC Bagh-e-Islam, Baramulla.
Buprenorphine, a synthetic opioid, is highly effective in drug dependence treatment, HIV and hepatitis prevention.
Scientific evidence indicates that substitution treatment with Buprenorphine can reduce criminality, infectious diseases, drug-related deaths, and improve the overall well-being of dependent users.
Newcomers to the center are screened by a trained doctor and counselor, assessing their suitability for treatment. Once approved, they are enrolled and dispensed Buprenorphine daily.
Dr. Parvaiz emphasized that the center addresses not only the 100 patients but also their friend circle and people around them.
"We are treating not only the addict but also 10 people around him, effectively impacting around 1000 people to prevent the spread of diseases like HIV or Hepatitis," he explained.
Danish, who had contracted Hepatitis due to the overuse of IV drugs, shared his experience of overcoming the problem with the help of the center.
While the center serves as a ray of hope for the youth on their path to recovery, Dr. Parvaiz stressed the importance of addressing the root cause of substance abuse to eliminate this societal issue.