Addiction is a disease, fight it: Priya Dutt

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Howrah, West Bengal, Apr 01: Addiction is a disease and not something we should hide, but fight and help others fight it, social activist and Member of Parliament Priya Dutt said today. "The key word is awareness,'' Ms Dutt stressed after inaugurating the Ladies' Drug and alcohol De-addiction Therapy unit to be run by the Ved Vignan Mahavidyapeeth Research Centre (VVM), under the aegis of Art of Living Foundation, Bangalore.

Responding to a question on government's role in aiding the addicts in the society, especially the youth, Ms Dutt said, ''I will not defend the government in saying that it is the sole responsibility of private concerns in aiding the youth in getting rid of their addiction. I do believe that a lot of work needs to be done by the government in this respect.'' Daughter of actor-turned-politician late Sunil Dutt and sister of actor Sanjay Dutt, Ms Dutt was addressing the press along with the local residents of Unsani under Howrah sadar sub-division on the ills of drug-addiction and alcoholism and the need for the society to be more aware.

''We need to be able to accept and address the issue more open-mindedly as there are so many young people in our society who are addicts and do not even understand it. Their parents are also unaware about their children's addiction,'' she said.

''I am ready to work with any concern who may show interest in doing something for the betterment of the society. I do not care if it is a private concern or government,'' Ms Dutt said, admitting that not enough had been done to fight addiction and creating greater awareness among the middle-class youth, who are more vulnerable to this evil yet less equipped to fight it.

Encouraging the efforts of the VVM Research Centre in creating awareness and helping 506 men successfully fight addiction at a similar set up for men, she said, ''I was told that the set up here was very small. But, I believe no noble work is too small. It is the quality of life that matters, not the quantity.''

- Speaking on the occasion, VVM De-addiction Research Centre Project in charge Tapan Banerjee said that over 10 lakh people die due to some kind of addiction in the country, which accounts for at least 12.4 per cent of all unnatural deaths in India. ''At least 9.8 per cent addicts in India lose their lives. We need to find the people who fall prey to this evil and encourage them to come forward to identify their problem,'' he said.

Talking about the success rate of the de-addiction centre for men nearby, he said the recovery rate has been 38 per cent as against the internatonal rate of 10 per cent.

Patients here come from over the country, including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Delhi, West Bengal, the North East as well as from Bangladesh, Mauritius and Nepal.

''About 50 per cent of the patients are from West Bengal, with about 25 per cent of them being from Kolkata alone,'' Renu Bose, a faculty member at the centre said, while Project Manager Bharati Ganguly said a large portion of the addicts come from the NorthEast.

UNI

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