In this Arunachal district, drug addiction fast becoming a thing of the past-


In this Arunachal district, drug addiction fast becoming a thing of the past-

Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The authorities of an Arunachal Pradesh district thought outside the box to fight the menace of drug addiction and the results are there for everyone to see.

They have been successful in creating eight model drug-free villages, which are self-motivating and self-propelling, in the country’s eastern-most Changlang district.

Drug addiction is common in villages that Changlang shares with Myanmar and Assam. The authorities ignored the traditional method where the addicts are sent to a health facility for de-addiction. Since this is a societal problem, they are motivating people at the community or village level to fight the menace collectively.

“Village is a unit in itself with own identity, panchayat and chieftain. So, we are doing it (de-addiction) at the village level. Our initiative is demand-driven. If we achieve success in one village, then others approach us seeking our intervention,” Changlang District Magistrate Devansh Yadav told this newspaper.

The intervention, however, comes with riders. A village must create a self-help group (SHG), pass a Gram Sabha resolution for de-addiction and provide the list of addicts to the authorities.

The addicts are treated locally if there is a presence of doctors and nurses nearby and if not, they are sent to a de-addiction centre.

“As we target a whole village at a time, it helps. The problem of people going back to the cycle of drugs becomes nil or minimal. We received a complaint recently from one of the eight villages about some people returning to addiction. We will identify them and motivate them and if required, send them to a de-addiction centre. We will get the peddlers arrested by the police,” Yadav said.

Currently, he and his team are working with the eleventh village in that sequel. Since resources are limited, they deal with one village at a time.

The initiative is under the Centre’s “Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan”. The government identified some 200 districts under the programme and Changlang is one of them.

“When people are de-addicted, we assist them in sectors such as poultry, piggery, fishery etc, so they can earn a livelihood. As we also solve local problems, such as the repairing of a school building or a road, the villagers become happy as our intervention brings along other benefits,” the DM said.

The demands for de-addiction come mostly from women who find themselves at the receiving end due to addiction in their families and resultant violence at home.

The SHGs are used to mount pressure on those addicts who refuse to go to a de-addiction centre. The role of the police becomes easier as they are required to deal with only one village. They can easily choke the supply routes of drugs and take action against peddlers.

“Most (districts) are doing it on the awareness part. We thought awareness is already there and it can go alongside our de-addiction initiative, so people realise it is possible,” Yadav said.

The authorities roped in the services of RK Mossang Memorial Society, an NGO, in managing the district’s standalone de-addiction centre at Bordumsa.

“We visit villages on a regular basis to create awareness among people, motivate them against addiction, counsel the addicts, help those who could defeat addiction and bring MLAs and leaders of the society to the de-addiction centre for counselling and motivation,” Komoli Mossang, who is the NGO chairperson, said.

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