India’s Punjab state has just opened its first drug treatment centre for women. The facility, which opened May 22, is a branch of the Hermitage residential addiction treatment facility in Amritsar. It will be headed up by Dr. JPS Bhatia, creator of Hermitage’s Women Integrated Treatment (WIT) programme, and staffed by 15 addiction counsellors and peer team members.
The programme’s target clientele have a history of being undertreated for addiction – of the women suffering from substance addiction, only 11% acknowledge the need to seek treatment and only 5% receive it. Says Dr. Bhatia, “Of the women who approach us, around 61% are on opium; 17 % on alcohol and the rest on tobacco. We do have woman patients with heroin and party drug addiction.” The majority of Hermitage’s existing female clients are young college students living in metro cities, and number about 500 per year.
The programme will operate on a sliding scale and include treatment options for clients’ families. “In the WIT programme, we will involve families of woman addicts. This rehab centre would be a residence for them. The arrangement is for 25 patients and they would be charged according to their addiction level; it can be nothing at all, or Rs 15,000 to 60,000 a month,” says Dr. Bhatia. “We will give them a women-specific course as reasons for falling prey to drugs differ in case of men and women, and so does the cure.”