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Reasons drugs problem among youth in Punjab and Telngana, suggest remedies

After the recent crackdown on the drug mafia in Hyderabad, that involved celebrities from the Rs. 3000 crore Telegu film industries, including actors and directors, there has been a renewed interest in the reasons behind the exponential rise in the use of psychotropic drugs among the youth of the country. As the investigations go on and the high profile people involved in the case indulge in denial of the charges, there arises a need to delve into the intricacies of the matter. The drug menace has targeted not only school-going children, but also people late into their adulthood. In Punjab and Telengana, there is hardly any family that is not suffering due to this trend. In most cases, there exist more than two people in a family who is addicted to drugs.

In Punjab, the use of drugs is not a new trend. People have been into the use of opium from a long time in the past. The day’s hard work in the farms would leave the villagers exhausted. The use of opium was kind of refreshment for them, much like the urban concept of two drinks after a day’s toil. Given that opium is not a very hard drug, this way of life was going on very smoothly in Punjab, when the Punjab government stopped all trucks from Rajasthan, carrying opium, in a move to tackle drug abuse in the state. But this step came back as a boomerang, destroying the whole purpose of the decision. Punjab, now starved of its source of entertainment, moved on to deadlier drugs to fill the void that the government decision had created in the markets. This created a bigger market for synthetic and more expensive drugs like LSD and heroin.

The main source of supply of opium is Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, which have huge opium plantations, whereas, the synthetic drugs come from the porous borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Hyderabad was a relatively quiet city which did not feature prominently on the national map for an active nightlife. The situation changed at the turn of the millennium, when IT industries started burgeoning in the South Indian city. The city went through a major makeover and the real estate boom made a lot of people rich in a short span of time. Nightclubs, bars and pubs started sprouting in various nooks and corners of the city.

Rave parties, synonymous with places like Goa, started getting rampant in the city. Incidentally, nightclubs and bars became the centres of drug peddling. The investigations started when some school students were seen using drugs. This subsequently led to the high profile drug racket that is operating in the city.

Foreign nationals are also arrested in relation to the drug trade, giving a strong indication that Hyderabad is growing into the hub of drug business in South and South East Asia.

The arrests related to smuggling of drugs to the international markets have also gone up really fast. There are code names given to drugs to escape attention- Har Har Mahadev is a a generic term for narcotic drugs, expensive drugs like Ecstasy go under the code of Anushka, whereas opium has the name Trisha.

The schools and colleges serve as the largest markets for drug peddlers. The users are usually children from well off families. Their parents, in an attempt to shower them with affection provide them with unlimited access to money. In most cases, both the parents are working. They want to compensate for the inadequate time that they spend with their children. This is the most common cause of the rise in drug abuse. There are also cases where students have started using narcotics because of peer pressure or to get away from the depressing situations in the family. In some cases, they start off as an experiment. They continue to take in more of the substance to get as high as the previous time. This pulls them into the black hole of abuse.

The menace has not only affected minors, but also the adults in equal measure. There are families where both the spouses are into drugs. Rehabilitation camps are mushrooming everywhere. The consequences are dangerous, both for the individual and the society that they are a part of. Once addicted, these users lose all self control. This leads to a chain of issues like rapes, molestation and crimes. Women addicts are also subject to a wide variety of harassments. In the rehabilitation centres, they are abused by the doctors and the police. Families with women addicts do not accept that their family member is a victim of drug abuse. This aggravates the problem instead of alleviating. They find it easier to accept that the male members in their family use drugs.

The problem arises when people have a tendency to imitate everything that goes on around them. The ability to discern the right from wrong is what makes us humans. When people lose this ability it leads to such consequences that we are discussing.

Children need love and care, not money to grow up. Parents should keep a strict surveillance of their activities. They should be taught to share everything about their life, in school, about friends and so on. Once they confide in someone, they have an outlet. Otherwise, they keep things to themselves; they don’t feel the necessity to talk to their family members. Another way to keep a check on the drug abuse by school and college going students is to divert their energy into productive activities like sports, scouts where they learn to discipline themselves.

This also reduces the crimes committed by juveniles. There should be a regulation on the people who go to nightclubs and bars. The law should be followed strictly- a person below the age of 25 should not be allowed inside. At present, school students also freely enter bars even though the law is against it. This will reduce the problem to a large extent. The check-posts should be vigilant to stop any illegal smuggling of narcotic products.

-R. Malavika