Drug Abuse: A Psycho-Social Challenge

We underestimate the severity of the issue due to our culture of denial and silence
"Every individual abusing drugs is not doing it for pleasure or entertainment. There are so many factors responsible which need to be looked into." [Representational Image]
"Every individual abusing drugs is not doing it for pleasure or entertainment. There are so many factors responsible which need to be looked into." [Representational Image] Mapixel [Creative Commons]

Drug abuse is one of the biggest public health concernS facing whole globe and Kashmir is no exception to this. Here also number of drug abusers is increasing with each passing day.

Children as young as eight, and adults in 30s are into it. However, we under estimate the severity of the issue due to our culture of denial and silence. Parents who should be the first ones to identify this, are the last.

They are in delusion that their children are immune to this. Parents over estimate the susceptibility of drug abuse in other children but under estimate its susceptibility in their own children, though they are equally vulnerable. Parents are driven by the thought that they trust their children, their upbringing and the morals.

However, they don’t realise the fact that drug abuse is a medical and psychosocial issue as well. Every drug addict is not having poor moral and religious values. Every individual abusing drugs is not doing it for pleasure or entertainment. There are so many factors responsible which need to be looked into.

A person may be driven into drugs because of peer pressure. Somebody may be driven into drugs because of unhealthy parent child relationship or troubled marital relationship between parents or due to break up in romantic relationships.

Somebody may have been a victim of psychological or sexual abuse, bullying or body shaming and to escape from the scars of these traumas he may have indulged in this. There are some reported cases where drug addiction runs in whole family.

In one of the drug de addiction centres of Kashmir; father, son, and daughter are admitted. Daughter is a mother of two kids. Still we are in denial mode and say our Kashmir is “peer ver” and drug addicts and peddlers are just few in number.

We are not ready to accept the fact that in each and every educational institution there are many students engaging in drugs. Drug addiction has crossed every boundary. Every strata of society is into it.

We all hold discussions and deliberations on tables but the question is how many educational institutions seriously engage in drug addiction screening - of students and teachers both? How many educational institutions conduct drug abuse awareness programmes? How many principles and teachers are mindful about identifying and rehabilitating students engaging in drugs? Is the role of teachers and principles only limited to helping students score good grades and excel in academics.

Don’t they have any responsibility towards ensuring mental health of students. How many parents, writers, religious preachers and community leaders are concerned about ensuring a drug free society? How many schools offer counselling to students struggling with psychological and emotional traumas? We are only good at one thing that is judging and labelling others.

For us drug addicts are blots on society and need to be socially boycotted and taunted. We are not ready to rehabilitate and socially re-integrate them. How many religious preachers give them a hope for better future and try to bring them back on right path. We have become so individualistic that we are not willing to become whistle blowers.

Media also has the responsibility to speak up on the issue and to bring all stake holders together so as to look for ways to overcome it. Our newspapers and news rooms should come up with content on drug abuse as well. They shouldn’t be concerned with political news only.

There are hundreds of media organisations ready to invite celebrities, sports persons, politicians for lengthy debates but how many give space to parents, teachers, researchers, psychologists, clinicians to speak about burning issues. Lets conclude with a message that unless we consider drug abuse as our common serious problem we cant be able to solve it.

We need to medicalise it and look at it from divergent perspectives. Let's not confine it to a moral/criminal issue. It is a psychological /moral /social /legal /religious issue. So onus is on all of us. We as parents have responsibility to maintain friendly relationship with our children and imbibe in them strong moral and religious values.

We need to work on improving their emotional and social intelligence so that they can cope up with struggles of life and don’t fall prey to peer pressure.

We as parents have responsibility to be vigilant enough to detect the substance abuse among our children by checking their academic performance, sleeping habits, physiological, psychological and behavioural changes. We should seek accountability for their pocket money.

Law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to check drug mafia and to act tough on any drug peddler. Religious preachers need to talk about these issues and welcome those who seek help as every person has a past and every sinner has a future.

We as responsible social members should guide them towards services available for their rehabilitation. Recently I heard story of a student from Kashmir.

He was living in a hostel outside state and had fallen into the trap of drug addiction. But due to spiritual and religious therapy he reverted back and is living a pious and drug free life and is working harder to help others overcome this.

This is possible only when we use motivational interviewing and give them a chance to change. Above all I request the administration to please set up life support services in all district hospitals where medical aid will be provided to addicts, and deaths due to drug overdose be prevented.

Postscript: This article doesn’t justify drug abuse in any way but intends to bring awareness on looking at the issue from divergent perspectives and highlights the need to show empathetic attitude towards their rehabilitation and social re integration.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.

The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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