Teens treated for meth abuse

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama shares a moment with a patient after the opening of the Alcohol and other Drug Counselling Unit at the St Giles Hospital in Suva on Wednesday, November 06, 2019. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

THE St Giles Psychiatric Hospital is treating teenagers for methamphetamine abuse every month, says the hospital’s acting medical superintendent Dr Kiran Gaikwad.

He said the highly addictive drug – marijuana and glue-sniffing – were among the biggest substance abuse disorders for teenagers as young as 15 being treated at the psychiatric hospital.

The issue was highlighted after the opening of the hospital’s alcohol and drug unit by Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama last week.

“Substance abuse disorder is the most common case among our young patients, they are most common among patients who are 15, 16 and 17 years old,” Dr Gaikwad said.

“The most common are glue and marijuana and now we have cases of methamphetamine.

“It’s getting more common and this is worrying because it’s a highly addictive drug.”

Dr Gaikwad said most teenagers treated for methamphetamine abuse were initially referred to St Giles for other issues. “We keep receiving methamphetamine-related cases every month.

“This used to be rare but now it’s getting common.”

Dr Gaikwad called on churches and NGOs to assist in the fight against hard drugs in Fiji.

“This is not a one-man-army job. I am requesting churches, NGOs and other relevant stakeholders to come on board.”

He said they set up the new drug and alcohol unit at the hospital where people with methamphetamine and marijuana addiction were given special attention.

Dr Gaikwad said there were 200 staff members at the hospital including four medical officers, three consultant psychiatrists from Fiji National University and a locum consultant.

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