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Article by Dr. Tonmoy Sharma, CEO of Sovereign Health, calls for India to Make a Quick Move in Addressing the Lack of Addiction Treatment Centers in the Country

San Clemente, Calif. – India is facing a serious threat in terms of the growing drug addiction. From 2011 to 2013, the country witnessed a 455 percent increase in drug busts, which in four years’ time, has grown at an alarming rate. According to a 2015 report from the Narcotics Control Bureau, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, India’s proximity to the major opium-producing regions of Southwest and Southeast Asia — the Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle, respectively — are prime location for the transit, trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs.

In a new article, The Long Reach of Drug Addiction in India, founder and CEO of Sovereign Health  Tonmoy Sharma, M.B.B.S., M.Sc., writes about one of the hotspots is the state of Punjab, where more than 860,000 young men between the ages of 15 and 35 years take drugs, especially heroin, opium and synthetic drugs, which are much more potent and deadly than regular street drugs.  Drug use is also growing at a rapid rate across Delhi, where children are becoming addicted to heroin or opium at age 12 and 13 years.

According to Dr. Sharma, the main contributor to the increase is the lack of professional drug treatment facilities in India. In Delhi, there are only five drug rehabilitation centers, which are partly funded by the government and are managed by non-government organizations. Addiction treatment requires staffing round the clock to ensure patients’ comfort, safety and successful recovery; detoxification alone can take weeks and requires intensive and lengthy care to decrease the chance of relapse.

For treatment to be effective, each patient requires a team of qualified care givers to help her or him manage the mental and physical fallout from addiction. According to experts, treatment requires a combination of medical and therapeutic approaches; however, a recent report from the Economic Times Health World indicates that approximately 70 percent of addiction treatment centers in India do not have the necessary treatment and care facilities needed for successful recovery from drug addiction. The country also faces a shortage of long stay homes, which help patients to recover and maintain sobriety before being released into the same environment where they became addicted. Once released, patients need frequent follow up to decrease the risk of relapse.

In the article, Dr. Sharma states, “Drug addiction costs lives and billions in lost productivity. It tears apart families, communities and can destroy economies.” He adds, “Addiction is not a moral failing or a lack of willpower on behalf of the addict. Rather, drugs change the brain in ways that make it nearly impossible to stop using.”

His message to the Indian government is clear, ” People who are addicted cannot quit on their own; they need evidence-based, specialized care from qualified professionals that focuses on their physical symptoms and mental issues (up to 60 percent of drug users have a co-occurring mental health condition).”

The article closes with a plea to India’s government officials to take the issue seriously and address the lack of professional addiction treatment centers. “The country must move to address this lack of professional addiction treatment centers, “Dr. Sharma writes. ” Drug use is steadily increasing. Research has proven that people who are addicted need evidence-based treatment that uses a variety of approaches.” The CEO adds, “Patients also need follow-up after being released from treatment to decrease the risk of relapse. Action must be taken quickly to address this shortage before we lose more generations to the scourge of drugs.”

About Tonmoy Sharma

Tonmoy Sharma has spent years crisscrossing the country presenting on MBC at conferences and community events. His hope is that in the not-too-distant future, clinicians and the public nationwide will embrace MBC as the highly successful, evidence-based treatment that is the best approach to treating addiction and mental health issues.

Sharma has been recognized with numerous awards, honors and grants for his work in advancing mental health and its treatment in the United States, Europe and Southeast Asia. He is a prolific researcher and scientist as well as the author or co-author of more than 200 peer-reviewed articles and five books on schizophrenia and mental illness. Dr. Sharma has served on numerous editorial boards, acted as peer reviewer for 14 international medical journals, and has been on various advisory boards governing the development of antipsychotics. He currently co-hosts KABC 790 AM’s “In Your Right Mind,” a cutting-edge, weekly radio show that covers various topics in behavioral health, and was selected by the OCBJ to be listed in the OC500 as one of the most influential people in the Orange County business community in 2016.

About Sovereign Health

Sovereign Health is a network of detox and behavioral health treatment centers that have qualified for the Joint Commission’s Gold Seal accreditation. The company consistently ranks as a top provider of behavioral health services, according to the independent eBASIS report from McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School affiliate. In McLean’s quarterly reports for 2016, Sovereign has surpassed 50 other treatment centers nationwide in several important health care measures.

Sovereign Health’s facilities are licensed in accordance with state regulations. The Joint Commission is the nation’s leading health care standards-setting and accrediting organization and sets a very high bar for qualifying for the Gold Seal designation. Sovereign’s extensive national network of nine facilities across five states also enjoys the distinction of being accredited to provide concurrent mental health and substance use treatment, a rarity in the field.

Sovereign Health’s mission is to provide a broad spectrum of high-quality behavioral health treatment services for adults and adolescents, including support services for family members. One factor that differentiates Sovereign from other treatment providers has been the company’s ability to offer separate mental health and addiction or dual diagnosis treatment programs at its facilities. For more information, visit www.sovhealth.com.

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