The NDDCB initiative:
A drug-free world for future generations
The NDDCB head office
With the ending of the humanitarian operation and establishment of
territorial integrity following 30 years of conflict, Sri Lanka was seen
to be turning its focus on resolving crimes and drug abuse, while
extending attention towards economic, social and cultural development
with peace among all ethnic groups.
Drug-related social issues have become a topic of discussion not only
in media, but also among individuals in various social strata. The
Mathata Thitha concept of President Mahinda Rajapaksa was formulated for
eradicating the drug menace from our motherland. In this context, the
National Dangerous Drugs Control Board, as the focal point for
coordination of all drug control activities in the country, is taking
various steps to achieve this objective. The NDDCB has been functioning
based on a National Policy, authenticated by President Rajapaksa, which
goes beyond a mere political manifesto, targeting the control and
prevention of drug abuse.
The Board is entrusted with the responsibility of conducting a
national program directed towards control and prevention of drug abuse
in the country, starting from the smallest unit in the society ‘the
family’ and encompassing the whole Sri Lankan social body. In
realisation of this objective, the Board conducts a variety of programs
while maintaining a hotline service (1984) which is open 24 hours for
public complaints, inquiries and assistance.
The Board has expanded its services in large scale as a consequence
of an incessant series of changes that occurred since its inception in
1984. It is of great significance for everyone to be aware of the
services offered by the NDDCB as individuals who expect a decent society
and a better tomorrow.
Currently, the NDDCB renders its service in a unique and diversified
array of ways.
* Prevention, treatment and rehabilitation programs for drug
dependants, with State security and responsibility;
* Educational and preventive programs to improve the awareness of
schoolchildren and the public;
* Outreach service programs and post-evaluation to assist in
resolving any drug-related issues in society, and conducting on-site
awareness programs in collaboration with Divisional Secretaries and
The National Narcotics laboratory
* Researches and publications directed towards identification of new
trends in drug abuse, development of services and sharing knowledge with
the vulnerable communities for drug abuse;
* Publish articles and documentaries in electronic and print media to
enhance public awareness on drug abuse;
* Counselling services offered to guide drug dependants in developing
self-esteem against drugs;
* National Narcotics Laboratory equipped with modern technology and
machinery to serve the country by means of scientific investigations,
chemical analysis and characterisation of any drug with a potential
* Treatment and rehabilitation programs with State security and
responsibility offered free for drug dependants.
Treatment and rehabilitation centres
There are five treatment and rehabilitation centres conducted by the
NDDCB which provide free services for those who are addicted to drugs.
The Board provides the opportunity for those who are determined to get
over their addiction to socialise once again as individuals with good
conduct through a systematic, methodical and scientific treatment
The Board ensures the right of every citizen to get rehabilitated
from addiction to drugs, by getting interned in one of these centres
either voluntarily or through the intervention of parents, relatives or
friends. An individual seeking treatment should remain here for three
The Board has taken steps and responsibility in providing better
services for its clients through psychotherapy methods such as
individual counselling and group counselling conducted by well-trained
and experienced staff. The employees at these centres serve with
dedication to rehabilitate drug addicts through the knowledge they have
gained by participating in national and international training programs
Every treatment and rehabilitation centre consists of a counsellor,
assistant counsellors and prevention, treatment and training assistant
officers who are employed under a manager. Currently, the Board is
making arrangements to establish district offices throughout the island.
Every client is provided with a free nutritious meal during the period
in which they are interned. Free accommodation facilities are also
provided. Facilities are also provided for exercises and recreational
The staff also provides the opportunity for the clients to be engaged
in religious activities. Weekly religious programs are held within the
treatment premises with the participation of clergy and prelates to
create an ethical and religious compliance in each individual.
Clients are provided with the opportunity of engaging in a vocational
training program according to their preference during the internment.
Steps are being taken via vocational training programs to make the
clients economically strong and socially recognised individuals by
shaping them to be competent in the vocation of their choice when they
step in to society.
Currently, the NDDCB is making plans to initiate a separate
vocational training centre with the intention of providing vocational
training to rehabilitated drug dependants in a professional capacity, as
a measure of ensuring a better future for them. The Board is making
untiring efforts to introduce to drug addicts the ways of enjoying life
without resorting to drugs by helping them improve their aesthetic
skills via recreational and aesthetic activities. Thus, the clients are
given assistance and opportunities to improve their skills in aesthetic
areas such as music, art and drama. The Board also takes steps to
discover, exploit and showcase the creative skills of clients by
organising art exhibitions and competitions.
Educational and preventive programs
In compliance with the National Policy, the Education and Prevention
Unit of the NDDCB is set on pre-identifying and educating the social
groups that carry the risk of being enticed to drugs to prevent them
from being addicted to such habits. Under the patronage of the NDDCB,
drug prevention programs are conducted for various social groups such as
schoolchildren, labourers and minor factory staff.
The Board consists of a pool of well trained and dedicated
professionals who are veterans in conducting preventive programs. These
educational and preventive programs are revised periodically and
whenever required, to improve the quality and relevance to the community
they are delivered to. The NDDCB is taking every possible step to
minimise the number of individuals who will be addicted to drugs, via
prevention programs aiming the youth and schoolchildren.
Outreach service programs and post-evaluation
A large number of qualified and experienced outreach officers
affiliated to the NDDCB is providing their services throughout the
country. These outreach officers who are employed at Colombo, Gampaha,
Puttalam, Galle, Badulla, Anuradhapura, Ampara, Ratnapura and Kalutara
are prepared to assist the victims of drug abuse, in resolving any issue
related to drugs. These officers are taking all the appropriate steps to
intern the drug addicts at treatment and rehabilitation centres or to
provide them counselling services within their premises. In addition,
the outreach officers are making every effort to follow up and evaluate
the conduct of those individuals who are released from the centres, to
prevent them from resorting to addiction.
Knowledge and Information through Research and Publication Unit
With a view to gauging the new developments that arise in relation to
drugs, trends and alterations to determine the social compliance and
functionality, the NDDCB comprises a Research and Publication Unit. This
unit conducts research programs on various topics and prepares the
policies as required while keeping the information related to drugs and
These statistics and information are routinely analysed, evaluated
and communicated with the other sections of the Board, to ensure prompt
action whenever drug abuse issues arise and potential threats occur.
Publications of the NDDCB in both print and electronic media carry out a
major role in improving public awareness and knowledge.
The Research Unit of the NDDCB can be considered as an ideal core of
knowledge and information for university students and schoolchildren who
are interested in research studies about the abuse, control and
prevention of drugs.
The head office of the NDDCB conducts a counselling service which is
open from 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. during weekdays for drug addicts, their
family members, children and wives. Through this counselling service,
any individual who is suffering from an issue related to drugs is
provided with support, remedies and pathways for remedies.
Anyone can obtain treatment from the treatment centres at Galle,
Colombo, Nittambuwa, Kandy and Piliyandala while counselling services
are also provided by the centres at Anuradhapura, Ampara, Beruwala,
Chilaw, Ratnapura, All Ceylon Buddhist Congress and head office.
Currently, the Board is taking initiatives to commence new counselling
centres at Maharagama, Slave Island, Gampaha and Maradana.
In addition to the counselling service conducted at the head office
and outstations, the Colombo centre offers a residential treatment
program and a counselling service for a reasonable charge, to cater to
people who have difficulties in adhering to the mandatory three months
residential program. Nevertheless, the Board maintains the same quality,
comprehensiveness, care and reliability with a good supervision to
ensure that the clients receive the best service for their payment, at
National Narcotics Laboratory
The National Narcotics Laboratory (NNL) of the National Dangerous
Drugs Control Board was established as part of a project undertaken by
the NDDCB and was funded by the United Nations Drugs Control Programme
(UNDCP). It is now renowned not only in Sri Lanka, but throughout the
South Asian region as one of the best laboratories with modern
The laboratory staff is engaged exclusively in analysis of narcotic
drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals, in addition to
conducting training and research.
Due to the untiring efforts and dedication of the well-trained
scientific staff and the management towards the development of the lab,
the NNL now has a huge potential to carry out most of the sophisticated
analytical experiments by itself, saving money which should otherwise be
spent on foreign laboratories.
The laboratory’s scientific staff consists of qualified intellectuals
from pioneer national universities; they are highly skilled and
versatile in their field, with training and experience. The NDDCB is
planning to conduct drug testing (dope testing) programs for sportsmen
and women to ensure their compliance with the terms of the Code of
Conduct in sports sectors. Measures have already been taken to upgrade
the laboratory facilities in a manner which is conducive for such work.
With this, the NNL will be able to perform drug tests for sportsmen
and women at a concessionary rate, saving money for the country, which
would otherwise be spent on foreign laboratories.
The NDDCB is grateful to the Ministry of Sports and the Department of
Police for their generous support in this regard.
The major activities carried out at the laboratory can be classified
under four categories.
* Routine analytical work
This includes the analysis and issue of reports of samples of
suspected narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and preparations
sent by law enforcement agencies such as the Police, Customs and Excise;
samples such as pharmaceutical tablets and indigenous Ayurvedic
preparations forwarded by non-governmental organisations and
individuals; samples of urine sent by agencies (Governmental or
non-governmental) for pre-employment “screening” purposes and
individuals requiring a certificate of being “drug free” as a
requirement for migration purposes and employment in certain countries.
Dope testing for sportsmen and women will be the next facility offered
under this category.
* Training programs
Regular lectures, demonstrations and training in the analysis of
narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals are
being conducted by the laboratory’s scientific staff, both for local and
international participants, with the latter comprising participants from
SAARC countries and South West Asia, sponsored by the UNODC. The local
participants include delegates from Police, Customs, Excise, Prisons and
those engaged in drug-related work both in the public and private
sectors with a view to enhancing their knowledge and analytical
The laboratory has already undertaken a considerable amount of
research work, particularly in the field of heroin and cannabis. The NNL
scientists have research publications to their credit in international
journals and further presentations made, at both local and international
* International Quality Assurance Programs
The National Narcotics Laboratory is a participant of the
International Quality Assurance Program formerly known as the
International Collaborative Exercise (ICE) conducted by the United
Nations Drugs Control Program.
The analytical part consists of both ‘biological specimens’ and
‘seized materials’. The results of the recent assessments in past years
have been exceedingly encouraging. The laboratory staff is currently
taking steps to upgrade the laboratory to comply with the ISO 9001:20008
Pharmaceutical drugs quality assurance program is another development
of the NNL in expanding its services to the nation. As such the NNL will
undertake the laboratory activities in pharmaceutical products analysis
and quality testing of post-market pharmaceutical drugs. The Board is
highly confident of the success of these activities, and the NNL is
committed to the best of its ability to provide an excellent service.
The NDDCB which is dedicated to provide a better future for the Sri
Lankan society is well and truly geared to resolve any issue related to
drugs. Based on the concepts of President Rajapaksa, and under the
direct purview of Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, treatment
centres and treatment methodology are developing with new dimensions.
The youth of Sri Lanka is invited to join forces with the NDDCB in
the quest for safeguarding the future generation of the motherland not
only financially or materially, but as resource personnel. Dedication of
the youth towards eradication of drug abuse in creating a drug-free
world for future generations is highly appreciated by the NDDCB at all
A major issue the Board is faced with is ensuring the sustainability
of rehabilitated drug dependants by providing them a path for
independence. Due to the stigmatisation of drug dependants by society,
employers are reluctant to offer them opportunities in their
Therefore, a dire necessity exists to provide the rehabilitated drug
dependants an opportunity to develop life skills and earn a living to
survive in society with dignity, and without discrimination and
The writer is Chairperson, National Dangerous Drugs Control Board.