Andhra Pradesh Government to set up detoxification centers to help alcohol addicts.
When the government launched its 'all-out war' against gudumba and adulterated toddy recently, little did it expect that hospitals would be flooded with liquor addicts. The first incident occurred in Adilabad district followed by more than 100 such cases landing at hospitals in Nizamabad.
"We were aware that such reactions would occur. The government was aware of the danger of suddenly stopping supply of liquor to the poor who are addicted to gudumba and toddy. This was precisely the reason why the government considered introducing cheap liquor to wean away people from the harmful liquor they have been consuming for years," said T Padma Rao Goud,excise minister.
According to medical department officials here, bulk of the patients exhibiting withdrawal symptoms were suffering from after effects of suddenly stopping their intake of diazepam and alprazolam - both anti-depressant drugs, to which the bodies of the addicts have gotten used to. In all, the excise department has identified about 3,500 villages where gudumba is manufactured and much of the adulteration of toddy occurs with these two drugs as well as with chloral hydrate, a sedative and hypnotic drug.
"We have discussed this in detail with officials of the health department to ensure availability of anti-psychotic drugs at all government hospitals in the districts. While these drugs will help doctors provide primary management of withdrawal symptoms, the government is working with Amrita Foundation, an NGO that specializes in de-addiction and detoxification," said R Chandravadan, excise commissioner.
Incidentally, the Institute of Mental Health at Erragadda was the only government-run facility that had a de-addiction ward. This ward was shut down about two years ago and, now, faced with increasing cases of addicts being rushed to hospitals from withdrawal symptoms from adulterated toddy and from gudumba, the government has sought the NGO's help in putting together a support system for its hospitals in the districts.
Dr Devika Rani of Amrita Foundation said that the government did not expect the kind of a sudden challenge to the hospitals in the districts that are dealing with the alcohol addicts. She said the foundation has been asked to provide immediate support in setting up detoxification centers and de-addiction programs at all the district headquarter hospitals to start with.