The De-Addiction Clinic at BSMMU is providing treatment to patients addicted to porn, internet and drugs
It all started with her addiction to pornography, resulted from a heightened sexuality she experienced due to her bipolar disorder. Her parents had to take her to a psychiatrist as things eventually went out of control.
The psychiatrist could not treat her, and referred her to another doctor.
This 22-year-old, student at a reputed university in Dhaka, was taken to the De-Addiction Clinic at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU) in Shahbagh, Dhaka. She is still under treatment at the clinic.
A number of patients like the young woman above are being treated at the De-Addiction Clinic, at Room 608 in Block E of the BSMMU complex.
The clinic is open to all every Monday from 11am to 1pm. Patients can get service here for a measly fee of Tk30, yet the clinic is not getting many patients.
The De-Addiction Clinic, which was inaugurated in January 2018, treats at least five patients on average every Monday. So far, 70 patients have received treatment from the clinic.
The clinic is treating another patient, an eighth grader, who has been addicted to pornography since she was in Class 6. Her hypersexuality stemmed from her addiction, and at one stage she asked her parents to leave the house so she can have intimate physical relationship with her partner. Her parents had to move out from the house because their landlord told them he would not tolerate the chaos every day.
Mohammad Shamsul Ahsan, associate professor of psychiatry at BSMMU and coordinator of the clinic, said while the internet is a major part of a person’s life today, its use must be controlled.
“It is a threat to our mental health when screen time [the time a user spends on a device connected to internet] starts taking over our lives,” he added.
The De-Addiction Clinic also treats patients with drug addiction and behavioural problems like internet addiction.
Ahsan said most of the patients he treats are adults who received counselling from the clinic.
"If a patient’s condition is found severe, we prescribe medication," he added.
A teenage boy, who is receiving treatment at the clinic, spends at least 10 hours online every day. He wants to overcome his internet addiction, but is unable to do it himself, said the physician.
Ahsan also treated a nine-year-old who hurts himself by cutting himself because his parents do not allow him to play games on mobile phones.
Parental filter and blocking harmful websites
Jennifer Alam, president of Crime Research and Analysis, an organization that works closely with cybercrime victims, said the cyberspace is expanding every day, and it is not really practical to completely shut down the internet for children and teenagers.
She recommended turning on parental filter and blocking harmful websites before giving them any device with internet connection.
“Parents and educational institutes should also provide some counselling about adult sites to adolescents. This topic is still a taboo in our society, and I think children need some direction before they discover porn sites themselves," she said.
They need to know what they see on adult sites are not real, she added.
Females more vulnerable to cybercrimes
The Cyber Crime Awareness Foundation (CCAF), a non-profit organization, found that females are more vulnerable to cybercrimes than males in Bangladesh.
The NGO published a report last year after conducting a survey on 133 cybercrime victims. Among them, 51.13% were female.
The report also said around 73.71% of the victims – both males and females – are aged between 18 and 30 years, and 10.52% are below 18.