Centre to roll out targeted drug-demand reduction programme

Over 100 districts identified for implementation; deadline for application extended till June 15

From initiating peer-led interventions for teenagers to setting up outreach and drop-in centres for those affected, a targeted drug-demand reduction programme will soon be rolled out in high-risk areas of 127 districts in the country, according to officials of the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry.

Announced in Februray

The programme, a part of the National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction for 2019-2020, was announced by the Ministry’s National Institute of Social Defence (NISD) in February, when it invited NGOs to apply to work on the programme. On Wednesday, NISD announced the extension of the deadline for applications till June 15.

According to a senior official of the Ministry, many NGOs were not able to get a recommendation from the government of their respective States, which is required for the application, due to the model code of conduct that was in place for the Lok Sabha election.

Outreach centres

The official said the 127 areas had been identified with the help of NGOs already working with the Ministry in the field as well as using the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre’s report on “magnitude of substance use in India”, which was submitted in February. While all 127 districts will have outreach and drop-in centres, 68 will also have community-based peer-led intervention among adolescents, according to the operational guidelines of the programme. Among the 68 districts are all State Capitals and Union Territories.

20 peer educators

The peer-led interventions would involve students reaching out to their fellow students, the official said. The objective of this would be to assess drug use in the community, provide early prevention and give referrals to counselling, treatment and rehabilitation services. In each area, there would be one coordinator, two trainers-cum-supervisors and 20 peer educators, who would also be trained, the guidelines said.

Rehab facilities

The outreach centres would reach out to vulnerable youth, provide a safe space for drug users to drop in for counselling and provide linkage to treatment and rehab facilities, the guidelines said.

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