The Treatment Assessment Panel (TAP), which assesses the severity of a person’s substance use and provide appropriate intervention, will be available in Wangduephodrang, Phuentsholing, Gelephu and Mongar by the end of August this year.

TAP is so far available only in Thimphu. The panel comprise of a medical doctor, legal officer, addiction professional and counsellors. A board member of the Narcotics Control Board chairs the panel.

The Narcotics Drugs, Psychotropic Substance Abuse (NDPSSA) Act 2015, requires the provision of counselling and treatment services. Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority (BNCA) initiated the TAP.

Since January this year, the Royal Bhutan Police has referred about 299 males and about 13 females to TAP. Of the total, 100 are school students, 56 are employed and 126 are unemployed.

BNCA’s programme officer with Demand Reduction Division, Karma Tenzin, said that with the increasing number of drug offenders across the country, TAP was decentralised to a regional level. “All are referred here at Thimphu and establishing TAP in the region can reduce the burden of TAP at Thimphu,” he said. “The other reason is because Thimphu is far for some people and police need to escort them here.”

Karma Tenzin said that TAP would help regular, dependent and those likely to get dependent by providing treatment and counselling.

Those who are referred would be made aware about the ill effects and the kind of laws that exist in accordance with an individual’s degree of the use of drugs, he said. “Some are ignorant about the ill effects,” he said.

The number of cases referred for counselling so far this year stands at 184. There were seven who are rehabilitated and nine were provided brief intervention, which means counseling for about two weeks.

Since July 2015, the police have referred more than 500 people to Thimphu TAP from across the country.

Rinchen Zangmo