BNCA providing Nicotine Replacement Therapy to 133 clients in Thimphu during second lockdown

Bhutan Narcotic Control Authority (BNCA) is facilitating Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) to 133 clients during the second lockdown. Of 133 clients, 27 are new clients who called BNCA during the lockdown to avail the service while the rest are follow-up clients.

BNCA has a routine delivery and they are reaching out the NRT which are nicotine gum and patches to their clients through identified shops in respective zones whereas the counseling on how to take the NRT for new clients are done over the phone. They call individual clients and inform about the delivery so that they do not miss it.

Deputy Chief Sonam Jamtsho of BNCA said that they have advertised on NRT, however the turnout is not much and this can be because cigarettes are made available in all the zones. People have not realized the importance of NRT, he said.

He said, “People who really desire to quit do contact us and we also encourage only those who want to quit. We do not encourage NRT to be used as maintenance therapy whereby they want to use just during lockdown as they do not have access to tobacco products” he added.

Using NRT as a maintenance therapy would be waste of time and waste of government’s hard earned resources.

BNCA asked the caller if they are availing the service to quit or just as a maintenance therapy, to which some gave honest answers saying they want to use as maintenance therapy and to those they do not facilitate.

“If we dispense whatever stock we have to those who want to use it as maintenance therapy during lockdown than we might fail to provide services to those who really want to quit. So, we entertain only those who seriously want to quit. Our stock is also for other districts which we will be rolling out soon,” he added.

BNCA have received many calls of which they have screened out only those who are genuine about quitting.

He said that maximum clients opt for gum over patches and they dispense it on a weekly basis and they call all the clients every week to dispense another batch of NRT, as per their feedback.

They have not faced any challenges on distribution part, he said, adding that government was supportive. They do not want their clients to relapse during lockdown just because they do not have an access to the service. Therefore, they wanted to make their service available during such times as well, he said.

Meanwhile, he said, “We also have clients who are dependent on substance abuse and alcohol who are undergoing withdrawal difficulty. To those clients we offer them the help to provide detoxification medication after consulting with the psychiatric department.”

BNCA assists in collecting the medicine from the hospital and dropping it to those clients, however, through identified shops in respective zones. He said they give virtual counseling like in NRT.  

“If anyone is facing withdrawal problems at this period when hospital’s number would be busy most of the time, they can call us for any kind of support. They can call us in 1011,” he added.

BNCA is working at the outmost to make their service available, he added. Though their plan was to roll out the NRT services in other Dzongkhags, they couldn’t due to the lockdown.  

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