By – Supriya
Drug abuse today is a major social problem which, though concerns with an individual’s deviation from the desired social conduct , in turn ,bit affects the society at large. It is a widespread and critical problem not only for the western countries today but has emerged as one of the major concerns of the Indian society as well. India, today, has not only become a key transit of drugs but also a large consumption centre. According to official figures , India has about 7.5 crore drug addicts and the number is going up significantly , especially in semi-urban and backward areas.The monthly drug sale in india varies between ₹100 crore to ₹ 125 crore. The use of illicit and prohibited drugs today is not just confined to street urchins and lower classes but is fast spreading to middle and upper class youths of the society.The term ‘ drug abuse’ refers to ‘ the use of illegal drug or the misuse of a legitimate drug in such a way that it results in physical or psychological harm.’ It includes smoking of ganja or hashish , intake of heroin , cocaine or LSD, or injecting morphine , or drinking alcohol etc. The word ‘addiction’ implies being physically dependent on a particular substance. It is a stage in which the body requires constant administration of the drug in order to remain functional and if the use is disrupted , the normal body functioning is interferred with this is the physical dependence upon drugs. Psychological dependence occurs when an individual relies on the drug for the feeling that it produces.Phrases like ‘ high on speed’,’trip’ or ‘ getting kicks’ are generally used by addicts and abusers.
A continuous intake of drugs results in an overpowering desire or compulsion to continue taking it and to obtain it by any means. This happens due to physical and psychological dependence upon the drug and it encourages a tendency to increase the dose or the frequency. Drugs are of various kinds such as alcohol , sedatives , stimulants,narcotics, hallucinogens and nicotine. Sedatives relax the nervous system which if given under medical supervision is used for curative purposes but can be misused by addicts. On the contrary, stimulants activate the nervous system. Caffeine and cocaine , popularly called ‘ pep- pills’ fall under this category. Narcotics are like sedatives which produce feelings of pleasure, strength , superiority, reduce hunger and lessen inhibitions. Opium, Marijuana, heroin (snack), morphine,pathedine, cocaine and cannabis such as charas, ganja and bhang are all narcotics. They are either smoked, sniffed or injected. Hallucinogens,as the name suggests,produce distortions of perception e.g., LSDs. Cigarettes,birds,cigars,snuffs,tobacco etc are Nicotines, the frequent use of which may cause heart attack , lung cancer or bronchitis. The most vulnerable part of society to drugs are the adolescents- the students in high schools and colleges. In order to merely try new and adventurous things , or under peer pressure or many a times imitating the actions of their favourite stars – children get caught into the vicious cycle of drug intake unknowingly and innocently . Gradually, they get habitual and what had initially started off as fun and adventure becomes their need and compulsion. By the time they realize , it is too late for them to break away without any outside help. The addiction becomes chronic because the adventurer starts hiding it due to parental fear and social stigma. Thus, the addict struggles all alone even if he/she wants to break free but fails in all his/her attempts.
To curb this menace, India has braced itself to face drug trafficking through innovative changes into laws and their enforcement. The Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic substances Act, with stringent provisions to curb this menace,envisages a minimum term of 10 years imprisonment extendable to 20 years and a fine of ₹1 lakh extendable to ₹2 lakh for the offenders. The Act has been amended by making provisions for the forfeiture of property derived from illicit drugs trafficking. Comprehensive strategy involving specific programmes to bring about an overall reduction in the use of drugs has been evolved by various government agencies and NGOs and is further supplemented by measures like education, counseling, treatment and rehabilitation programmes.
On the personal front, to control the drug abuse , children should be educated about drugs and their harmful effects from an early age. Here, roles of families , parents and teachers become very crucial. Healthy dialogue should be encouraged between adolescents and their parents or teachers. Merely observing June26 as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is not enough . All measures or compulsions – even punishment – to check the evil of drug addiction from spreading and paralyzing the society should be taken up.