Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Manipur: What is in the making ?

Gay Thongamba *

In a recent incident at Gateway of Recovery, a Private Drug Rehabilitation Centre, located at Nungoi Pourabi, Imphal East, an inmate was allegedly beaten to death. This incident has gained a lot of attention in the eye of the public and media. The deceased who had fled away from the Centre was caught and brought back at the centre and there he took his last breath.

This is a painful incident; individual responsible for such incident should be taken to task. No sane person will condone the incident. Though the intention of serving the Drug User community may be real, but taking lives of fellow Drug Users even if it not deliberate, is a punishable offence.

It is important to recollect that this is not the first incident of its kind. Deaths in the Drug Rehabilitation centres have been happening, but this is perhaps the first time that public at large have taking note of the situation, many Civil Society Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations started condemning the incident widely.

The said Rehabilitation Centre was burnt down, JAC was formed, compensation, from what was reported, was provided to the grieving family.

The outcome of this incident has opened the flood gates of questions rather than factual or satisfying answers. The question of how it happened, is partly answered through media, but why it happened, has not been answered satisfactorily.

Many opined that such rehabilitation centres need to be banned and even called for closure of all private Rehabilitation centres in the state. Some have even compared Private Drug Rehabilitation Centre to cottage industries and an imminent person during a discussion in a TV channel called (or rather declared), all private Rehabilitation centres as an illegal entity.

He even compared to the treatment of these centre as a treatment provided by local quacks (Maibas).

These are disturbing issues, as many of us miss the wider picture. If there is something illegal, it is definitely the drug availability in the state, which goes unchecked and not the efforts of community leaders, who are working to establish rehabilitation centres which respond to the menace of drug abuse in the State.

While the law takes its course on the incident and brings justice to the deceased, it is time to analyse objectively whether we should start treating private run non-funded Drug Rehabilitation centres as a liability rather than an asset of the State? This is also a matter of debate and opinion.

Of course, one can surely question the quality of services provided in the private Rehabilitation centres in the State; overcrowding, lack of professionals and professionalism, unhygienic conditions, overcharging of fees, forcible detention, violation of Human Rights, so on and so forth.

One can even opine to the extent that Drug Rehabilitation centres, if not monitor properly, can be a place of abuse; physically, mentally or otherwise. But declaring all Private Drug Rehabilitation centre as unlawful and comparing all these centres with local quacks, is not only unfortunate but could be misleading.

There are more than 50 private self-funded Drug Rehabilitation Centres in the State. Some of the private Drug Rehabilitation centre are more than a decade old. They are self-sustaining, provide services and job opportunities to the community and provide a structured space where the drug users get opportunity to assimilate back into the society, after been treated.

Many started with good intentions, taking the needs and demands of a community-initiated response, hoping that it will lead to true involvement and empowerment of drug user's community. The initiative of these include start-ups of Post Rehabilitation Programme such as developing Mid way Home and establishing Income Generation Programme (IGP) for Alcoholics and Drug Users.

Though few, these are initiatives taken up by the private run Rehabilitation Centre without taking the help of any external funding. There are very few such community led initiatives in the country, in general, and therefore more than anything, we need to understand the impact they are making by undertaking research and scientific studies.

We should also consider preparing the Standard Operating Protocols and State Policies on Drug Treatment for running the private rehabilitation centres in the State, which effectively do not exist. Stronger intersectoral dialogues and engagement with existing drug rehabilitation centres and community leaders, will help making these SOPs and policy on drug treatment most relevant and effective.

Every citizen has the right to form association - It is a fundamental Right enshrined in the Constitution of India under Article 19(1)(c), work as a Voluntary Organisation (VO) in any social development sector he /she wishes to propagate, be it in the area of Women, Child, Environment, Education, Differently abled, Aged, Poverty and even Drug Use.

Just as everyone has the right to propagate supply, demand or harm reduction of Drug policies; Therapeutic Community (TC) is one such model where numerous Drug Rehabilitation Centres in the state are adopting with letter and spirit. The underlying principle of TC is that community of drug users understand the problem of a drug user better.

At the best, one can accept the action of the staffs and conduct of the officials in the Rehabilitation centre as illegal; but it is too far-fetched to declare all private Rehabilitation centre illegal.

As the country gives freedom to form associations that work for people's development and wellbeing, remarks not drawn from these constitutional remedies, may be seen as insubstantial. We are not alone. Punjab as a state is alleged with mushrooming of private Drug De Addiction Centres in the smaller towns, villages and cities in Punjab.

There are many reports on human rights violations and financial exploitations reported in the media, with allegations such as mistreatment, overcharging and enslavement of the patients. Punjab has three kinds of Drug De Addiction and Rehabilitation Centres - The MSJE funded at NGO Settings, Department of Health and Family Welfare funded De Addiction Centres at the Hospital settings and the Private or self-funded.

They are monitored and reports provided to the concerned authority. This is as per 'The Report of the Special Group on Drugs Constituted by Government of Punjab'. 'Comprehensive Action against Drug Abuse (CADA) August, 2018. This is the underlying difference between the two states. We have yet to established a recognised regulatory body. How do you classify self-funded Drug Rehabilitation Centres as illegal if no recognised regulatory body exist?

To comprehend the issue better, let's look at some of community approaches adopted at different times in the state of Manipur to tackle the issue of Alcohol and Drug use. This in not with the intention to negate or ridicule any movement.

In fact, Manipur as a state is doing much better than other states in terms of Drug use care, prevention or treatment. The early HIV intervention among Injecting Drug Users, Formation of Drug Users Organisation, HIV network and adopting Harm Reduction policies at an early stage of HIV epidemic, are classic examples.

Manipur is one state in the country which has also experimented with many approaches to respond to the menace of alcohol and drug abuse. Some of such approaches which one can highlight include, shaming of Drug Users, humiliation in the public places, alcoholics and drug users were shot at thighs as a punishment, were even forced to swim in the cold middle of night during winters, there were also Meira paibis, the local torch bearers, who came to the fore front as a part of the community response.

Many say that the outcome of such 'punitive' approaches has actually led to Manipur being made a 'dry state'. The mushrooming of private Drug Rehabilitation centres is also a part of community response.

Whether it is in the interest of the state or has become a liability the jury is out in the open. We can empathise with some of the Rehabilitation centres in the state, which has been running with a selfless objective to serve the community better.

One of the points which needs mention is that the private drug rehabilitation centres in Manipur, incur the running costs without any external support, which speaks of the interest and passion of the leaders of this movement in the state.

This include the limited income and the large expenditure they have to incur for the mess (three meals a day), electricity, Rent, water, payment of staffs (including doctor and nurses), travel, cooking gas, medicines.

Well, it is also important to note that many of the fees remain due and unpaid; most of the family of drug users are by and large from the lower or middle income strata, the fee collection rate never touch 70% in any point of time, in private Rehabilitation in the state (USERS Manipur & CoNE). No response to a situation is perfect.

Taking the current situation into account, the following are some of the suggestions which may help the Private Rehabilitation Centre conduct the service more humanely and effectively:

1. The State should recognise the existence and work of Private run Rehabilitation centre. They should jointly work out on mechanisms/funding avenues for proper Capacity building of staffs of drug treatment centres on a regular basis or when needed.

2. A drug policy needs to be in place taking into account the State specific needs. It should not be a generic piece but should consider addressing the issues such as the what is happening in the present context of Private Rehabilitation Centres, combating current pandemics and the likes, including a post Rehabilitation programmes for the Alcoholics and Drug User Community.

3. A regular surveillance and support mechanism which is external, free from biases, should be in place to help regulate the Rehabilitation and Drug Treatment. It should not be a toothless body, but should consist of individuals and institution who should not just monitor and recommend but can mentor these centres to become an asset of the state. The surveillance mechanism should also identify policy level gaps, estimates and disaggregation and classification alcohol and Drug Users.

4. A specific state guideline/ SOP should be developed. It should not be a copy and paste of previous guidelines as developed by the Ministry or AIIMS. It should be workable and state specific. The present guideline as developed by the Ministry or AIIMS are silent on the issue related to runaway clients or how to deal with functionaries when they started relapsing in the centre itself.

5. Private run Rehabilitation centre should recess their goals, and jointly address the issue regarding the quality of service. Strong measures should be taken to do away with issues such as (but not limited to) overcrowding, lack of professionals and professionalism, unhygienic conditions, overcharging of fees, forcible detention. A consensus state level (not built on difference or conflict) Redressal cell, should be established to address the grievances of inmates.

*** Endorsed by Community Network for Empowerment (CoNE) & USER Manipur

* Gay Thongamba wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The author is Chief Functionary, Makers Foundation, IPA Ibungo Drug De Addiction & Rehabilitaion Centre, Manipur.
He can be contacted at gthongamba(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on May 26 2020.

* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.

  • View from Shirui Hills in Ukhrul #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 01 July : Govt of Manipur
  • Power dynamics: Leikai Clubs & Meira Paibi
  • Kinthuilung, Khelheibha, Lunpilal: eMing
  • People's charter of demands to PM & CMs
  • A discourse with my soul :: Poem
  • Can antiviral fabrics stop the spread of COVID
  • Design behind 'abnormal' growth ?
  • Apologetic misnomer
  • Kanglen Aarti katpa #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 30 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Land Commission for improving relations #1
  • COVID-19 : Impact in Manipur :: News Timeline
  • National Statistics Day & Statistical system
  • Distribution of Face Mask to Old Age Homes
  • A walk on prime meridian
  • Manipur leads a valiant fight against COVID
  • 48 hours later and not yet a word
  • Fate of print media in aftermath of COVID-19
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 29 June : Govt of Manipur
  • July Calendar for Year 2020 : Tools
  • Cyberbullying using social media as weapons
  • Distribution of Face Mask to CRPF Personnel
  • Sports, children & transferability to classroom
  • The rain sings outside the window :: Poem
  • Online learning enrolments during lockdown
  • Morphing from negative to positive
  • COVID-19 and its impact to community
  • Gandhari (Dance Drama) #4 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 28 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Takhelchangbam Kunjabihari : Wari Liba
  • Antrimwanbut Khwan : Inpui emagazine
  • Public services essential to COVID response
  • Rajas & Maharajas in Parliament
  • Naga artist Ket Meth releases music video
  • Extending lockdown till July 15
  • Neire, Mei Taare- words of the new generation
  • COVID-19 Status 27 June : Govt of Manipur
  • E-Conference : New Frontiers in Science
  • COVID mirror
  • Property Sales & Client Support @ R-Square
  • SKY Hospital - 12th Foundation Day
  • Benjamin Tao - Convenor, Manipur, TICCI
  • Online Social Work Alumni Meet at RGU
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Has state BJP succumbed to NPP's pressure?
  • Individual responsibility to battle Corona
  • COVID-19 Status 26 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The Lushai Expedition, 1871-72
  • Intl Day in Support of Victims of Torture
  • Remember :: Poem
  • Yoga as career choice
  • Head count on contentious census
  • In the game of politics
  • I Rise :: Film Scenes : eRang
  • Kits to frontliners @ ISBT : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 25 June : Govt of Manipur
  • International Day against Drug Abuse [Jun 26]
  • Corruption: A National Security Issue
  • Book : Rights & Entitlements at Chandel
  • Power tussle amid pandemic
  • Still no checking on corruption
  • Sangai Fest [Dec 1 2019] #3 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 24 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Essentials must include reproductive health
  • The Killing Fields 2013-20 : News Timeline
  • To peruse a father's heart :: Poem
  • The importance of the way we think
  • Politics of South China Sea disputes : Book
  • Art of running a coalition Govt
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 23 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Sports and environment in Manipur
  • Corona stigma dogging even doctors & nurses
  • Mapping the Change Makers in North East
  • TNL knew better meaning of Quarantine
  • The Kukis, Justice and the UN
  • Scripting a high octane drama
  • QC at Saikul in Kangpokpi : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 22 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Impacts of Mapithel dam on forest & climate
  • Kang Chingba (Rath Yatra) Festival :: Book
  • Messengers of hope on World Music Day
  • Sound of environment :: Poem
  • Online Conclave for Women Entrepreneurs
  • Admission for Class XI should not be closed
  • Approaching the four figure mark
  • Demoralizing anti-corruption crusade
  • Lameithanbi - a myth with geological linkage
  • COVID-19 Status 21 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Highways of Life - best film at DocFest B'desh
  • The Unwelcome Delimitation : Part - II
  • We and today :: Poem
  • Yoga - A need of the hour
  • Cupid in COVID times
  • Voices for & against delimitation
  • Amur Falcon Fest @Tamenglong #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 20 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Gerrymandering in delimitation of AC
  • A humble tribute to fathers!
  • Jobs at LMP Technology, Canchipur
  • The gateway to heaven :: Poem
  • Nongpok Sanjenbam village #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 19 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Axone & Lingering Question of Racism in India
  • Training : Prevention of Spread of COVID-19
  • Patents or people: Conundrum of healthcare
  • Rahul Gandhi birthday observed at Dimapur
  • Programme on Disaster Risk Reduction
  • Curfew Violators- 19 June : Police Dept
  • Interesting election to lone RS seat
  • Arithmetic doesn't work in politics
  • Great June Uprising @Kekrupat #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 18 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Training program on cultivation of mushroom
  • NHRC registered Case to investigate Oil Spill
  • Experience :: Poem
  • Floriculture as career choice
  • Admission for Class XI at Govt Hr Sec School
  • Unfolding political developments
  • The fate of titular king in hard political game
  • Quarantine Center @ Mantripukri : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 17 June : Govt of Manipur
  • What Now for Returning Migrant Workers
  • Activation of State Food Commission
  • At a crossroad :: Poem
  • Women Entrepreneurs' program in Northeast
  • Curfew Violators- 17 June : Police Dept
  • 28 days quarantine period : TNL example
  • Arambam Samarendra Anniv #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 16 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Inevitable long wait alongside complacency
  • Compassion amidst the COVID gloom
  • Domestic Workers future beyond COVID-19
  • Poverty stricken student- 11th rank at HSLC
  • Consultative Meeting for Opening of Schools
  • On CM Rio press conference of June 15
  • Freebies on offer from schools
  • June 18 again: but is Manipur's territory safe
  • Class X (HSLC) Exam Toppers : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 15 June : Govt of Manipur
  • On George Floyd, breathless blacks & cops
  • Merit Scholarship - Class X & XII : Download
  • Condolence message for Th Oliver Monsang
  • COVID-19: Resilience & way forward
  • Understanding and accepting adversities
  • Nagaland Cabinet decision to regularize MOs
  • Spotlight on quarantine centres
  • Leirum and Luirim connotation
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Merit List
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Result Sheet
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Subject Toppers
  • Class X Exam 2020 : Statistics Abstract
  • COVID-19 Status 14 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Podcast on Manipur by Carnegie Endowment
  • Proposed park in Chivu needs a rethink
  • Home :: Poem
  • Social Media during Lockdown
  • Worrying double digit spikes
  • Adieu to Pi, Themneihat ..
  • COVID-19 Status 13 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Online Survey for people at Quarantine
  • The way forward after COVID-19
  • To strive for economic revival in COVID-19
  • A moonlit night in June :: Poem
  • Career options in Horticulture
  • Need for empathy & responsibility
  • Cultural @Sangai Fest 2019 #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 12 June : Govt of Manipur
  • The Unwelcome Delimitation : Part I
  • RIMS in top 40 Medical institute in India
  • FDP: Research Topic for Arts & Science
  • Importance of webinars for academicians
  • 'Strictly follow SOP by Nagaland Govt'
  • To be discharged sans test results
  • Now Chief Minister is silent on corruption
  • Livelihood implication on Unjas
  • COVID-19 Status 11 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Rethinking Oil exploration in North East
  • Decry the assault on Dr. N Haraba
  • Pandemic Parodies
  • CBSE exam for remaining subjects
  • QC Discharge Rule Clarification [11 June]
  • Looking back at first case, shutdown 1.0
  • Winning Covid-19
  • Arambam Samarendra Anniv #1 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 10 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Manipur's Draft Bamboo Policy
  • Sanjita Chanu cleared of doping charge- IWF
  • On reopening of schools in Manipur
  • Research & Project Associate at IBSD, Imphal
  • Concern with Oil Spill at Baghjan
  • Prison spell : CM bang on target
  • Even diarrhea kills human sometimes
  • Relief Services in 5 dists #2 : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 09 June : Govt of Manipur
  • 4th delimitation in Manipur : Impact analysis
  • Sunzu Bachaspatimayum - Secretary of MFDS
  • Yes, Homecoming ! :: Poem
  • Speed up COVID-19 Test in Senapati IQC
  • Sales & Client Support @ R-Square (Imphal)
  • Curfew Violators [09 June] : Police Dept
  • Looking at cluster transmission
  • Is quarantine centers hotspot for COVID-19 ?
  • 2nd Barak Festival @ Senapati : Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 08 June : Govt of Manipur
  • With Four Prime Ministers :: Book Review
  • Meeting with youth of Manipur amidst lockdown
  • COVID-19 Memo - Govt of Manipur [08 June]
  • Delimitation: Redrawing political ambitions
  • Lilliputians' Travels :: Poem
  • Policy reforms for sustainable agriculture
  • Maharashtra surpassing China's tally
  • Check and Balance in Indian Democracy
  • Covid-19: Impact in Manipur :: Photos/News..
  • Leirum Phi - in our cultural legacy
  • COVID-19 Status 07 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Impact on agriculture & rural economy
  • Trace Me Not :: Poem
  • Online education - norm of day
  • Joint Open Letter to Chief Minister [Jun 7]
  • Memo reg. incorrect Chivu Stone Inscription
  • India's worrying upward trend
  • Quarantine @ JNV Yaralpat: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 06 June : Govt of Manipur
  • MA (Manipuri) in Meetei Mayek from 2020
  • Time For Nature :: Poem
  • Quarantine @ UNACCO School: Gallery
  • COVID-19 Status 05 June : Govt of Manipur
  • Quarantine Dilettante :: Poem
  • Manipur should not allow Home Quarantine
  • Handbook: Effective Legal Service released
  • Motsillaba Mingsel :: eRang Photos
  • COVID-19 Status 04 June : Govt of Manipur
  • WED amidst coronavirus pandemic
  • Enclosure :: Poem
  • WED : The environment and the life
  • Laibi Oinam : Lady Auto Driver ...
  • Relief @ Bungte Chiru Village: Gallery
  • Impact of childhood exposure to environment
  • Who to blame for CCpur COVID +ve explosion
  • Train @Jiri [May 28] #2 : Gallery
  • Geographical Indication, Leirum Phee & others
  • Relief Services in 5 dists #1 : Gallery
  • Thang Ta at Sangai Fest #3 : Gallery
  • Stuctures @ Willong Khullen, Maram : Gallery
  • I Rise :: Film Synopsis & Biography
  • Measures @ Imphal Airport - 25 May : Gallery
  • M.K Binodini Devi's Sense of Beauty
  • Phisakol #3 :: eRang
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Tungjoi Glory Day #2 : Gallery
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2020 #2: Gallery
  • The Princess & the Political Agent : eBook
  • Tangkhul Forum vegetable for valley: Gallery
  • Items distributed to Tarao -Apr 23 #2: Gallery