Kerala’s only de-addiction centre for women and girls turns operational in Ernakulam district

Established at Karukutty in Ernakulam district in April, the de-addiction centre has a 13-member team and provides treatment for up to 90 days

Shortly after the Social Justice Department of Kerala launched its first-ever de-addiction centre for women and girls at Karukutty in Ernakulam district in April, a 16-year-old landed there as an inmate for drug abuse.

She had been into substance abuse for five years and it took three weeks for the teenager to even get rid of the withdrawal symptoms. The class 7 dropout was from a separated family who became an addict and then a drug carrier.

She, however, turned out to be quite talented, with innate skills in crafts and made impressive progress at the centre. She is now one of the five inmates at the centre being run by Nirmal Nikethan Mukthi Sadan, an NGO that has been running a de-addiction centre for men for 32 years.

"We got from her the names of 12 other potential substance abuse addicts. But before we could track them down, her mother started pushing for her custody though she was a long way from full recovery," said Joseph Parecattil, director of the centre.

Realising that giving the mother her premature custody would lead to a relapse in her condition, the centre approached the Child Welfare Committee to retain her custody under the Juvenile Justice Act.

The youngster’s case is indicative of the need for a rehabilitation programme as an extension of the de-addiction treatment. "We may have to go for such a programme once the funding stabilises under the Central government from next year," said Fr. Parecattil.

Treatment for 20

The centre, with an in-patient and out-patient wing, is funded by the State government in the first year and has the capacity for the treatment of 20 inmates at a time. It has a 13-member team and provides treatment for up to 90 days.

"The centre caters to all kinds of addictions, including drugs, alcohol and mobile phone, besides complications arising from failed love affairs," said Fr. Parecattil.

A monthly consultation and even a weekly get-together along the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous are also being planned.

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