Syed Mustafa Ahmad writes about the menace of drug addiction

Drug abuse is a patterned use of a drug in which the users consume the substance in amounts or with methods which are harmful to themselves or others.
Drug abuse corrodes the foundations of society and has the potential to lead to child abuse as well as sexual and domestic violence.

The problem is global and India is no exception to it. In India, drug dependence is a major social issue in parts of Maharashtra, North East, Karnataka, Goa and Punjab.
The fact that India is in close proximity to the Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan), as well as the Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Laos and Thailand), makes it vulnerable to drug trafficking. It means that there is no hardship in finding harmful drugs. They are available at an arm’s length.
What started off as casual use among a minuscule population of high-income group youth in the metropolitan cities, the drug abuse has permeated all sections of the society.

Drug addiction crisis

Cannabis, heroin, and Indian-produced pharmaceutical drugs are the most frequently abused drugs in India. Alcohol and tobacco are the most prevalent addictive substances used across the country.
Pharmaceutical products containing narcotic drugs are also being increasingly abused. The codeine-based cough syrups continue to be diverted from the domestic market for abuse. To highlight the menace, the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed annually on June 26.

The decision to mark the day was taken on 7th December 1987 through a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in order to strengthen global action and cooperation to achieve its aim of making the international society free of drug abuse.
The year 2019 theme of the day was ‘Health for Justice, Justice for Health’ which emphasized that justice and health are two sides of the same coin when it comes to addressing the problems associated with drugs.
One of the major reasons for drug abuse is its presence in every nook and corner of India.

Sometimes, it is romanticized in films and it becomes thrilling and seductive the affair for youngsters, who can be misguided easily because of their relative lack of experience in life. The other causes for this are the lack of counselling. Our youngsters are left to fight with the changes happening in them and the changes taking place around them. They are not in a position to emerge out of the trauma which the newest things bring with them. Here the need for counsellors is of utmost importance. But we lack it completely. We lack the mainstream of doctors. The presence of counsellors in a city or a village is a distant dream. Moreover, the unyielding system of education is another cause for this. Thousands of students commit suicide due to this rigid system of education. No knowledge of practical life is imparted in the institutions. The dreams of the students fall like a pack of cards and they take to drugs in order to avoid the haunting present and the black future. What is the motive of education? The object of education is to produce human beings who can settle in a society, whatever the situations are. There is a big chasm between what is taught in the classrooms and what is going on in society. This difference makes them incompatible and they find solace in the harmful drugs.

The love affairs are another cause. Recently, the Times of India came up with a report that made it clear that the cause of deaths and drug addiction is caused by the love affairs in most of the states of India. Romanticism at the earliest age and the taboos attached with it forces youth to take to drugs.
The media also are at the forefront. The glorification of the drug addiction in the movies or in other dramas creates a destructive mark on the plastic minds of the students in general and the youth in particular.

They get excited and try to imitate this at their homes and pave way for the destruction of society. Peer pressure is another cause. Like in the movie ‘3 Idiots’ the main theme is that a student should be allowed to live his or her life. He or she should not be forced to act according to a particular trend in society. All the students should patiently listen. Their grievances and views should be respected and the ways should be found to tackle them. But they are being rebuked and they feel isolated. It is this isolation that takes harmful form in the future and makes the brilliant minds scapegoats over drug addiction.

The impacts of drug addiction are manifold. The worst impact of drug abuse is on the brain, which consequentially affects every other aspect of the life of the person addicted to drugs. Drugs are primarily chemicals that affect the communication system of the human brain. They disturb the ways in which nerve cells send process and receive information.
Drugs such as heroin and marijuana are structured in the same way as chemical messengers known as neurotransmitters. These neurotransmitters are produced naturally by the human brain. As a result of this similarity, drugs can fool the receptors of the human brain and activate the nerve cells in such a way that they send some abnormal messages.

In case of drugs like methamphetamine and cocaine, the nerve cells get activated and they release extraordinarily large volumes of neurotransmitters. This disrupts the normal functioning of the human brain and can prove very disastrous at sometimes. Another devastating effect of drug addiction is on the generation. A lot of people die due to this menace. They not only destroy themselves but also their family members in particular and the relatives and the neighbours in general, for a long time. Apart from this, a lot of money is lost in drug addiction. To ease their nerves, the drug addicts become thieves and are a burden on society with the passage of time. It brings misery and gloom in the lives of the people of any country. The dreams of a bright future are shattered and it gives rise to other diseases and with this, slowly and steadily, the whole society is engulfed and the escape is totally blocked. We are facing the agony of drug addiction. Our alleys, streets and roads are preoccupied with drug addicts. They are our brothers and sisters if I talk about the youth. They need our guidance. They are the part and parcel of our society. We are the organs of a single body. We can’t be so mean in allowing anyone to die in this fashion.
To curb this menace, prevention is one of the ways. In fact, it is one affliction that can be easily be prevented according to medical experts and practitioners. Prevention programmes involving families, schools and the immediate communities are important in this regard.

Media also should come forward in eradicating this menace, rather than romanticizing it. Movies should be based on the harmful effects of drug addiction. From the beginning, the students should be taught to abhor these things. Adult education should be promoted so that our elders leave this harmful way. The best method to tackle this issue is to destroy the crops where the drugs are grown at the earliest. There should be strict punishment for those who are culprits. The suppliers of the drugs should be hanged in open. They are the butchers. They should be sent to gallows. The government should take initiatives to stop this menace. They can do a lot but they are not doing anything. They, in cooperation with the common people, can eradicate this menace from society. Last but not the least thing is to cancel the license of the chemists, drug manufacturers, associations, etc at the earliest and ban the sale of medicines that can have the potential of being used as drugs. Lip service won’t do any miracles. The collective approach is the need of the hour. Parents and religious leaders have a lot to offer. We earnestly wait for it. (The writer can be reached at syedmustafaahmad9@gmail.com)

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