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Drug Abuse

Drug habit is no longer a rarity among the adolescents in the Asian countries. All-India surveys indicate as high an incidence as 3 per cent of addiction and 15 per cent of casual indulgence among senior school-going boys and girls. The prevalence is particularly high in hostelers of public schools.

Drugs generally abused are sleeping pills, tranquillisers, stimulants, mood-elevators, cannabis (bhang, charas, ganja) and opiates. LSD, cocaine and heroin are used by a small proportion of abusers. The majority use more than one drug.

Most of the drug addict teenagers show significant evidence of conflict, confusion, mental tension and remarkable deterioration in scholastic performance. Shoplifting, stealing and, at times, even trafficking are resorted to by the “die-hard” addicts to make enough money to procure the supply of drugs.

Why drugs? The causes include frustration at home, poor performance at school, bad company, emotional stress and the like. “Keenness to burn the midnight oil” at the time of examination and to “gear up stamina” for better performance in sports and athletics are said to be the underlying factors in some cases. Others indulge in drugs “just for kicks”, “just for the heck of it”, “simply to see what will happen” or as an “adventure”. Yet another group of adolescents consume drugs to “hit back” at the parents, teachers or society. What a protest!

To check the malady, the following measures are suggested:

(i) Provision of adequate facilities for recreation and entertainment in the families as well as in the hostels.

(ii) Proper channelisation of energies of the young people into constructive activities and other healthy interests.

(iii) Inculcation of dangers of drug abuse among adolescents. This cannot be done unless parents and teachers are aware of these dangers and take pains to educate the youngsters.

(iv) Provision of periodical psychiatric guidance facilities in schools.

(v) Strict implementation of drug control measures. Remember, all this is a tough task. The parents have double responsibility here. Firstly, they must handle the problem of drug abuse at home tactfully. Secondly, they must contribute to the implementation of the suggested measures in collaboration with other agencies. Unfortunately most parents take the problem of drug abuse very lightly. One of the investigators of the surveys (referred to a short while ago) has an interesting story to tell. In his words, “just about 6 per cent of the mothers and 5 per cent of the fathers of drug abusers contacted by us felt that they could do something to contain the malady. The rest of them simply laughed away the question.” I am told that “most of them were far too busy to find time.”

That is the tragedy of today’s rat-race! If the parents are not eager to get out of the “rut” of their own making, how would the teenagers?

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