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INDIA: Treatment Camp Held to Assist Boys with Substance Abuse

(MissionNewswire) Don Bosco Jananam, the de-addiction ministry of the Salesian Province of Tiruchy, a city in the Indian State of Tamil Nadu, held a 10-day camp in April to assist youth who are suffering from substance abuse addiction. A first of its kind in this Salesian Province, the event was held in collaboration with St. Ann’s Sisters of Luzern and several Salesian priests. Six adolescent boys from local Salesian programs participated in the camp.

India has a growing substance abuse problem, particularly among at-risk youth. While the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that there is significant difficulty in estimating drug usage and addiction rates in the country due to poor bureaucratic processes and census reporting, there is an overall increase in the rate of illicit drug use. Reported numbers indicate more than 3 million drug addicts in India.

Drug addiction is a major problem for many families and communities in the country. A lack of appropriate available care is a challenge and addicts are often left to be treated by their families at great financial cost. India also has 2.4 million people infected with HIV/AIDS, a disease of particular concern for intravenous drug users which make up 10 percent of the affected groups.

The WHO notes there is an increase in heroin use in India, including among children as young as 13. There are one million registered heroin addicts in the country but treatment programs suggest that number may instead be as high as five million.

Initially, two Salesian youth rehabilitation centers in the cities of Salem and Coimbatore had identified 20 adolescents badly in need of addiction services to combat their use of inhalants and other drugs but only six chose to participate in treatment. Salesian staff found many obstacles and challenges in motivating youth to attend the camp.

“Salesian staff have very important work to do that goes above and beyond classroom teaching,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the international Salesians of Don Bosco. “Substance abuse can affect a child’s ability to learn as well as their behavior in and out of the classroom. We have an important role to play in helping to identify substance abuse while ensuring that children and their families have access to the proper care to overcome addition.”

Salesian staff found that each camper needed specialized individual care. The boys were mainly addicted to inhalants but all of them manifested multi-substance dependence syndrome and were taking a maximum of five different substances including alcohol and tobacco. All those that were treated were school dropouts as well as child laborers.

The treatment camp took place within a hospital with oversight by a psychiatrist consultant and de-addiction counselor. Father John Dharman, director of Don Bosco Jananam, and Father Jude Muthuselven, assistant director, accompanied the participants throughout the 10-day camp. The treatment included physical and psychiatric consultations and medication, de-addiction counseling, education, Pranic Healing, Laughter Therapy and methods of Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

In addition, participants of the camp were visited by representatives from Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous who shared their childhood addiction experiences with the goal of motivating the boys to give up drugs and find a path to a healthy and happy life free from substance abuse. All six of the boys responded well to treatment and showed signs of being on their way to a complete recovery. A follow-up program and additional camps are being planned.



ANS – India – Treatment and counselling camp held for substance-abusing adolescents

Don Bosco Tiruchy

Don Bosco India – Treatment and counseling camp held for substance abusing adolescents

World Health Organization – Substance Abuse