Bangladesh has more than eight million drug addicts, Home Affairs Minister reports
by Sumon Corraya

The Bangladesh Police Welfare Trust has inaugurated a new drug rehabilitation centre. Experts warn that during the pandemic drug use has increased among people of all ages. For the director of a rehab centre run by Caritas rehab, “more awareness around the issue of mental health” is needed.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) – Bangladesh has eight million drug addicts, Home Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal reported.

To deal with the issue, the Bangladesh Police Welfare Trust recently opened a 24-hour drug rehabilitation centre, which can accommodate up to 60 people, in Bashundhara Riverview, South Keraniganj.

“We’ve been successful against tobacco.” Now “we have to stop drug supply and demand,” Kamal said.” It is alarming that there are eight million drug addicts in our country.”

“There are various public and private arrangements for their treatment but we do not know how many years it will take to treat people,” said Dr Benazir Ahmed, Inspector General of Police (IGP). For this reason, “we have taken the initiative to set up a modern drug addiction treatment and mental health counselling centre.”

The Bangladesh Police Welfare Trust facility employs doctors, psychiatrists, therapists, yoga experts and consultants.

Patients are seen on the ground floor, while the rest of the building provides various accommodations, for example, single and double rooms, with or without air conditioning.

According to experts who attended the inauguration, young people use social media to obtain drugs, which come mainly from India and Myanmar.

With the pandemic, drug use has increased among people, young and old, due to psychological pressure. 

It is “necessary for people to be more aware of the harm that drugs can cause,” said Montu Palma, director of the Bangladesh Rehabilitation and Assistance Centre for Addicts (BARACA), a project by Caritas Bangladesh. Unfortunately, most people ignore mental health problems.

“Psychological counselling is sought only in case of serious mental illness, but if there were more awareness around the issue of mental health it would be possible to prevent drug abuse, which almost always arises from a strong psychological discomfort.”

BARACA has provided assistance and rehabilitation services for drug addicts since 1998. Currently, it has 31 patients.

In addition to rehab and counselling, it offers night shelter for at-risk street children. Thousands of people who have passed through it over the years have been healed.