Doctors’ bodies flay Kerala government prescription to provide liquor to addicts with withdrawal symptoms

South India

The Left Democratic Front government decided to make available liquor to addicts with withdrawal symptoms following a series of suicides and suicidal attempts due to non-availability of liquor following the 21-day country-wide lock down. 

Doctors’ bodies have come out against Kerala government’s decision to provide liquor to those who show withdrawal symptoms as per doctors’ prescription.

Both Indian Medical Association and the Kerala Government Medical Officers’ Association (KGMOA) have expressed their difficulty to abide by the decision, saying prescribing liquor against withdrawal is not scientific.

"Those showing withdrawal symptoms should be provided scientific treatment which can be given at homes or by giving medicines after admitting them at hospitals," IMA state president Abraham Varghese said adding that providing such prescriptions is against medical ethics and it could even lead to cancelling the licence of medical practitioners.

KGMOA state general secretary Dr G S Vijayakrishnan pointed out that modern medicine has well-defined protocol for treating alcoholism. The health department has already issued a guideline for dealing with such cases. Thus the suggestion of using doctor’s prescription for demanding liquor should have to be withdrawn,” said Vijayakrishnan.

The government order issued on Monday night said its decision intended to address the social issues including frustration and suicide tendencies shown by those who used to consume liquor regularly in the wake of closure of liquor outlets in the state.

The order said that those who have physical and mental issues due to withdrawal symptoms could be given liquor in a "controlled" and "prescribed" manner.

It also says that such persons with withdrawal symptoms should approach the Public Health Centres, Taluk hospitals, district hospitals, general hospitals or the medical college hospitals and get themselves examined by the doctor.

The prescription could be produced at the nearby Excise office along with a government issued identity card of the person carrying the prescription and receive a liquor pass. It can be produced before the Beverages Cooperation Managing Director, who will take necessary steps to distribute liquor, the order said.

So far the state has recorded six suicides of those who had withdrawal symptoms, allegedly upset over not getting liquor following alcohol ban.


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