Covid-19 lockdown: 200% jump in calls from drug users, alcoholics

Ghughuti Bulletin

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/covid-19-lockdown-200-jump-in-calls-from-drug-users-alcoholics/articleshow/75335478.cms

NEW DELHI: Distress calls from alcoholics and drug users on national helpline spiked by 200% during the
coronavirus lockdown, triggering concern in the
government to urgently help out these individuals across states.

The biggest reason for the outcry is the absence of alcohol because of closure of liquor shops and also the breakdown in the supply of
narcotics owing to curbs on movement of people who act as mules. Another cause for irritation is the complete disappearance of the ubiquitous tobacco.

Though vanishing of common substances of abuse as well as hard narcotics would be seen as a welcome development, the government is not celebrating because it is pushing even mild users to the edge.

Raising eyebrows, the data collected by the
social defence division of the ministry of social justice and empowerment shows that compared to an average of 90 calls on toll free number – 1800110031 between March 15-21, the number post-lockdown from March-end to April 5 shot up to an average of 266 calls per day. It marks a 200% spike in calls.

The calls from April 5-12 remained in the high range of 236 a day, while from April 13-23, it remains at 159 per day – much higher than pre-lockdown.

Between March 22 to 31 maximum calls were received from
Uttar Pradesh (73), Delhi (34),
Madhya Pradesh (31) and Gujarat (29). From April 1 -12 the trend reflected Uttar Pradesh leading with 203 calls followed by
Bihar (136), Maharashtra (119) and Madhya Pradesh (109). From April 13 to 21 UP was again at the top with 69 calls followed by Bihar (68), Delhi (60) and Maharashtra (56).

A senior official said the calls are triggered by restlessness, anxiety and withdrawal symptoms in people who are unable to access alcohol, drugs and tobacco.

The complaints of moderate symptoms included headache, stomach ache and anger, as also severe withdrawal symptoms like seizures, hallucinations and shivering.

As a result, the “helpline executives” are counselling those with moderate symptoms and guiding callers requiring more intensive intervention to the
Integrated Rehabilitation Centres for Addicts. There are 495 IRCs in the country which means practically one per district in the worst states on the scale of addiction.

Interestingly, the desperate callers’ request ranges from advice on kicking the habit to a few even asking how they can access the intoxicants.

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