Integrated medical services is essential for improving the treatment of drug addiction, and the process also requires a concerted effort from psychiatrists, counselors, and social workers.
A patient should have ready access to employment once he is free from substance abuse, Associate Professor Dr Helal Uddin Ahmed of the National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital (NIMH) said at an event on Monday.
A job opportunity given to a patient being treated for drug abuse will have a positive impact on his mental wellbeing, he added while attending a discussion titled "Current Circumstances: Drug Addiction Treatment and Rehabilitation" along with other experts.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines integrated medical services as the management and delivery of health services so that clients receive a continuum of preventive and curative services, according to their needs over time and across different levels of the health system.
Speaking at the event organised by Networking among Addiction Rehabilitation Centres of Bangladesh (Narcob) and Sonjog at the National Press Club, former resident psychiatrist of the Central Drug Addiction Treatment Centre Dr
Akhtaruzzaman Selim said, "The rules of treatment must be amended as soon as possible.
"This sector must also be brought under mainstream medical services on a priority basis, as the treatment and rehabilitation of substance abusers are both complicated matters. Drug addiction changes a person physically, psychologically and behaviorally, and such patients cannot be cured with just one treatment or through the efforts of just one doctor."
Dr Selim continued, "The Covid-19 pandemic has put a severe strain on the mental health of people across the globe. The number of patients with mental illness is surging - more than ever before. We have to remain vigilant against anyone's attempts to abuse drugs due to mental turmoil."
At the discussion, experts pointed out that every person suffering from substance abuse suffers different problems and complications. So, treatment being offered varies from one patient to another.
A team must provide integrated medical services to substance abusers and addiction is cured through a concerted, collaborative effort by all stakeholders, they said.
Sonjog's Advisor Dr Peter Halder – who presided over the event – emphasised the need for boosting government allocation in this sector to increase the scope of treatment and rehabilitation for people with drug addiction.
Sonjog's President Iqbal Masud moderated the session, while its Vice-President Shafiqur Rahman and RELIFE's Director Bakul Francis Costa spoke at the event among others.