English | Dzongkha Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Bhutan in need of more rehab centres

Samten Dolkar, Thimphu
Oct 5, 2017

Institute of Wellbeing, a rehab centre located in Tsaluna, Thimphu

There are only two rehabilitation centres in the country with each centre housing around 20 people. On the other hand, the national referral hospital detoxifies more than 300 drug and alcohol dependent people every year.

The Institute of Wellbeing, a rehab centre located in Tsaluna in Thimphu, is one of the rehab centres. The other is located in Samzang in Paro.

Alcohol and drug dependents currently undergoing counselling at the Institute of Wellbeing shared that there are many who would like to come to the centre but not all can accommodated due to limited resources.

Some go to rehabilitation centres in India. A client at the Institute of Wellbeing who did not want to be named shared that he has friends who went to India andcame back with bad experiences. “My friends told me about the difficulties in coping in centres in India as the culture there is different from ours,’ said the client.

“They also told me that sometimes the therapies given at the centres in India are extreme. The clients are beaten and confined in a room.”

The client added that the fee also is cheaper in Bhutan. “In India, the fees are expensive. They may have better facilities but my friends who have returned from rehab centres in Siliguri and Sikkim said they had a hard time bearing their violent therapy.”

With the number of people in need of rehabilitation far surpassing the number of rehabilitation centres, some have been eyeing to open private rehabilitation centres. The Bhutan Narcotic Control Agency says it has received proposals for it but all got rejected.

“As per law, we have to allow private rehab centres as well,” said Phuntsho Wangdi, the Director General of BNCA.

“But certain standards need to be set because we cannot afford to have private centres taking advantage of people battling addiction. Addiction is recognized as a disease and people wishing to open centres to treat addiction must have the capacity to do so and the will to really help people. So, it cannot be a profit venture.”

The BNCA is also opening a new rehab centre in Serbithang. Dr. Chencho Dorji, a Psychiatrist with the national referral hospital hopes the centre will help take in more number of people for rehabilitation.

“I think they can go up to about 300 people in one year provided they are staying there only for three months,” he said. “There are many who come for detoxification to the hospital but not even half of them land up in rehab centres after completing detox.”

Detoxification is a process of removing toxic substances from body in order to overcome alcoholism or drug addiction.

The rehab centre is Tsaluna also plans to increas its intake in the future.

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