Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, in presence of Social Justice, Empowerment and Tribal Affairs Minister Alo Libang, on Friday, launched an online certificate course on drug abuse prevention, in a step forward to eradicate substance abuse in the state. To begin with, all group A and B employees of the state government will have to mandatorily undergo the course. The objective is to make these groups of employees ambassadors of creating change in society by being aware and equipped with drug abuse prevention and management. Terming the initiative a strong push in the government’s fight against drug abuse, Khandu said alcoholism and substance abuse is a major concern for the state as the menace is alarmingly engulfing the youths in its vicious grip. “Most of us only hear about drug abuse and its effect on the life of the people. We hardly have seen the effects as families facing the menace suffer in isolation,” he said. Khandu said only after watching the Arunachalee movie ‘I killed my son’ recently he realise the fatality of drug abuse on families and persons in the vicious grip. “It broke my heart to realize how dangerous the menace is and how families suffer in silence,” he said. The Chief Minister appealed to all to voluntarily undergo the online course and join the fight against drug abuse as the government alone cannot win the battle – no matter how hard it tried. On Khandu’s initiative, the Arunachal Pradesh Psychoactive Substances Policy 2021 has already been adopted by the state government to eradicate the menace from society. The Chief Minister informed that the state government has sanctioned funds to establish six rehabilitation centres across the state and directed the concerned agencies to immediately start the work. He suggested that these centres should be fully equipped for the purpose and also have provisions for vocational and skill development training for the inmates. As these centres will take some time to become functional, Khandu suggested that meanwhile reputed NGOs working on drug abuse and rehabilitation outside the state may be roped in through an MoU so that addicts can be immediately sent for treatment. He asked the chief secretary to work on it urgently. “There are many addicts who are from poor family background and many have been disowned by family members. These group of addicts ought to be identified first and immediately sent for rehabilitation,” he said. The 4-month online certificate course will consist of modules on understanding substance abuse, types and harmful effects of drugs, signs and symptoms, myths and facts, counselling and intervention, management of alcohol/cannabis/opioid use and related disorders, behavioural change, communication and family role, workplace prevention, law enforcement, etc. The course has been developed by the department of Social Justice, Empowerment and Tribal Affairs (SJETA) in collaboration with the National Institute of Social Defence, New Delhi, under the National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction of the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and will be offered by the Arunachal Pradesh Psychoactive Substance Control Authority (APPSCA). A certificate will be awarded to those completing the course. The launching ceremony was attended by Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar, Principal Secretary Health and APPSCA Member Secretary, Commissioners and other top officials of SJETA.