TODAY -
Experts moot substitution therapy
Source: The Sangai Express

Imphal, December 23: Experts have stressed on the need to formulate a State policy for implementation of special project to include Brupenorphine Substitution Therapy in treatment and rehabilitation of drug (Heroin) users in Manipur.

Participating in an interaction session organised by Manipur Network of Positive People (MNP+) at the conference hall of Manipur State AIDS Control Society (MACS) at Lamphelpat today, experts working in the field of prevention and rehabilitation of drug users in Manipur as well as drug users pointed out that substitution treatment is effective and it has become an integral part of most comprehensive harm reduction strategies as it reduces the morbidity and mortality associated with high risk injecting behaviours.

Dr Lenin explained that substitution therapy, often called maintenance therapy, involves oral administration of a prescribed medication with a similar action to the drug of dependence but agents do not produce rapid intoxication in the same way like the drug of dependence.

However, it is not a cure for the opiate dependence although it is effective in reducing harms associated with drug use and its impact upon HIV/AIDS.

Random controlled trials and controlled observational studies have also demonstrated that substitution therapy is effective in reducing risk of contacting HIV, Heroin dependence, criminality, infection and risk of deaths from overdose, he said.

Moreover, substitution therapy is also associated with improvement in health and social functioning, introduces structure and routine into people's lives, facilitates contact with drug services for a group of users, who may not normally have access to such services, and improves compliance with ART, Dr Lenin further explained.

Under a pilot project of the Emmanuel Health Institution (EHI), clients of MNP+, SASO and Care Foundation are getting the benefit of Brupenorphine Substitution Therapy, Dr Lenin, who is also the State consultant of EHI informed.

He, nevertheless, cautioned that Brupenorphine tablet should not be fixed with other drugs or alcohol as it could be fatal.

MNP+ president L Deepak recalled that the pilot project of EHI was launched in Manipur for the first time on March 3, 2006.After studying the response and effectiveness of the therapy, EHI has given the assurance of extending the project for another year.

But there has been no written assurance in this regard.

Deputy Director of MACS Dr Manikanta was another resource person who attended the meeting presided over by Project Director of MACS Dr Pramodkumar.

In his address, Dr Pramodkumar expressed confidence that a project on Brupenorphine Substitution Therapy might be taken up in Manipur along with implementation of NSCP phase-III.

Giving his testimonial, one former drug user who is currently undergoing Bru-penorphine Substitution Therapy said a drug addict employed various means, whether fair of foul, in order to procure the required drug even to the extent of committing social crimes.

But Brupenorphine Substitution Therapy can minimise all these and help in regaining confidence and self esteem to lead a normal life in the society.


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