A month and a half after the Bhutan Narcotic Control Authority (BNCA) launched the first family support group (FSG) in Lungtenphug, Thimphu to address substance abuse issues in the family, the programme has not yet made any progress.

The programme, launched on December 29 last year, was aimed at empowering and enabling the community’s collaboration to develop strategic intervention programmes to tackle substance use issues from the source.

The FSG was also expected to prevent family members from drug use through regular drug education and advocacies.

The group consisting of a chairperson, a secretary and more than 10 executive members were supposed to monitor and provide required support to the group after BNCA trains them on basic counselling skills for addiction and intervention.

However, the group leaders claim that they did not receive any training as of now.

FSG’s secretary, Sangay Dema, said without any training, they could not conduct any interventions and monitoring. “We hardly know the activities and plans we have to develop without training and guidelines.”

She said the group conducted an inspection to study the prevalence of substance use issues in the community. “No issue was reported but we feel that we need basic training to provide adequate support in future.”

With financial support from BNCA, the FSG was supposed to conduct quarterly meetings on the situation of substance abuse in the community.

The group leaders were also mandated to conduct advocacy and awareness programs.

A baseline assessment 2016 identified persons using drugs and alcohol as a vulnerable group and found that in many cases, the addicts’ family do not have a sound understanding of the care he or she requires and are unable to provide sufficient post-treatment support.

Chief programme officer with BNCA, Nima Damdul, said they intend to conduct the training by next month and officially register the group to support the fund for quarterly meetings.

He said the executive members of the group couldn’t gather for training because of the vacation.

Meanwhile, following the launch of the first family support group in Lungtenphug, BNCA has launched eight support groups in Paro, Haa, Phuentsholing, and Gelephu with the families of armed forces.

Of the nine groups, BNCA has trained executive members on the plans, working procedures, and the role of families in Gelephu.

However, with the executive members not registered with the BNCA, the group would not receive the fund.