Progress (coupled with happiness) is the pinnacle of a profound process called Peace. All the elements of the society contribute their faculties and capabilities to create the dynamic conditions and the wheels of development are set rolling.
Our society is surviving in a peculiar set of circumstances. All these years of conflict we have witnessed how deep despair has set in all aspects of our lives. In the saga of blood and tears, we see innumerable factors continuously working on the psychological and sociological aspects thereby culturing the minds of the people. Therefore, our lives are fraught with doubts and uncertainty; as a result we are all suffering from the condition of collective stress.
Due to this stress, easy accessibility to resources, corruption of minds and other causes like the misuse of social media societal transgressions have become our common lot. We are bound to find ourselves in the cul-de-sac situation; materialistically pampered but spiritually starved.
Therefore, the increasing incidents of rape and the rapacious drug abuse by our youth have jolted the society. Drug abuse has become an epidemic of drug addiction, and the overwrought people have good reason to be troubled.
Drug abuse is otherwise a growing global menace, and cuts across all barriers including the socio-economic lines. It is hurting the social systems everywhere, because it devours the youth and particularly the teenagers. In our case the situation is more alarming as the abusers are mostly in the age group of 10 years to 25 years. While the alarm bells are ringing it is pertinent to take a stock of the situation and set in tangible corrective as well as the preventive measures.
Children imitate their elders in the family who smoke, various studies have established that they imitate their elders in the family and start smoking cigarette stubs and end up taking drugs. As it is, smoking not only directly affects an individual’s health but destroys the health of those around.
Furthermore, the teenagers/adolescents because of their age are propelled to a new phase of their life. While they develop a new understanding of the world independent of their parents they try to become assertive with their decisions. At this stage of life they are more likely to fall prey to the negative influences such as use of alcohol and drugs or become involved in other deviant behaviors within their social circle.
An exposure to healthy lifestyles, positive lively activities such as sports; creative activities such as reading or writing clubs; eco-protection or pro bono activities can surely restrain the adolescents from relenting to such activities.
Social media usage has become intrusive in our modern lives; hence a contributing factor for increased levels of alcoholism and drug abuse among the adolescents as they share undesirable material online and experiment.
Another major factor as to why adolescents take to drug abuse is lack of parental involvement in the lives of their children. Generally both the parents are working or in case they are divorced they are so engrossed in their own lives that they are hardly pro-active participants in the lives of their adolescents. The lack of parental attention is compensated by the presence of grandparents in the family, but due to nuclearisation of the family such positive influences have gone missing.
Parental pressures can also have negative influence on the children. Therefore, the detached adolescents are more vulnerable and more likely to fall prey to intoxication and addiction. Children of this age group need the guidance and emotional support; friendship and openness from their parents. Strong family ties and ample communication between the children and parents acts as a deterrent as well as a shield to such children who may otherwise indulge in deviant behavior.
The parents also need to know who their children are acquainted with, what all activities they are involved in, keep a check on what they are spending at, and above all make sure the children/adolescents spend quality time with the family.
Peer pressure is yet another factor why they indulge in such activity. It gains them acceptability in their friend circles, or they take drugs seeking euphoria. The feeling of euphoria depends on the kind of substance used. These youngsters use drugs to relieve stress, anxiety or physical pain and even as stimulants (a rarity). It has been found in our State Heroin, Brown-sugar is the most frequently used substance besides opioids, inhalants, sedatives and steroids.
Development of addiction among the adolescents is a dangerous cycle. From one time users they become all time addicts, thereby jeopardizing their lives. Such sustained use of drugs reduces a person’s ability to control or stop the use. Their will power is compromised to say ‘No’. Such adolescents require tertiary care and need to be admitted to the de-addiction centers in the hospitals to overcome the chronic addiction.
Drug abuse can cause loss of IQ, impairs memory and thinking ability; as a result the adolescents become impulsive and aggressive, and so becoming social deviants even indulging in criminal activity; and there is every likelihood that such addicts may indulge in unprotected conjugal activity and other risk activities, even accidents are caused due to effects of drug addiction.
It is indeed unfortunate that such addictive substances are so easily available in the markets to these adolescents; pain killers, steroids and other preparations are available over the counters in pharmacies without prescriptions. It requires strict regulation and action by the Controller of Drugs.
The enforcement agency has of course come down heavily on the drug peddlers, who are only small fish in the big net. Stringent action needs to be taken against the dealers and peddlers who are poisoning the society. The law is also strict in such cases and there is no bail for such offences only in very exceptional situations may bail be granted. In these cases there is a presumption of guilt. The judiciary has a very significant role to play.
At the societal level it requires enormous grit and spirit to pull our adolescents out of this quagmire. In schools the teachers have a responsibility to check the academic performance of the children. If they skip the school or suddenly show lack of interest immediately the parents should be informed.
Primary responsibility is however always on the parents, who must keep a check on the school and social activities of their children. Any withdrawal symptoms should immediately but delicately be handled. Where the adolescent is a frequent drug abuser the psychiatrist and experts at drug addiction center in the hospitals can be consulted without hesitation and further delay. Our young generation has deep mental health issues. If we were to measure their happiness quotient despite providing them the best of luxuries it would be very minimal. Therefore, let’s all gear up; parents, teachers, administration, enforcement agencies-one and all. Let’s team up to give our children a better future.
(The author is Advocate J&K High Court at Srinagar)