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Join hands against the drug demon

ROSHIN ABRAHAM


June 26 is being observed as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. I wonder if this day is merely one for the service providers to gear themselves up and conduct a bunch of awareness and advocacy programmers among the general public.

This day could be a time to review our commitment to be empathetic to those dependant on alcohol and other drugs. It could also be a warning bell to all those struggling with drugs; a time for quick self-evaluation. Besides, it could be seen as a gesture of the government to combat this menace by releasing some money to run a poster exhibition or a rally or a public meeting. Something to show that it is in the fight against the evil as well, after making good revenue through liquor sales. This could be an eye-opener to parents on what their college-going children are exposed to now.

As wide and diverse as the culture of India, so wide are the options of drugs available. They consist of stimulants (uppers), depressants (downers), cannabis, opioids and opiates, solvents and inhalants, hallucinogens and other psychedelic drugs and the more recent threats like roofies and ketamine. The long-term effects of these drugs are dangerous and fatal.

A drug welcoming/friendly/tolerant trend is permeating our culture today. We need to be warned that social use does not apply to illicit drugs. These drugs have a very high addictive potential. We're talking about chemical substances that change not only the function and structure of the body but also one's thinking, feelings, perception and behaviour. These changes occur due to the drug's action on the brain.

A youngster begins with experimenting alcohol and nicotine considered ‘gateway drugs.' In the beginning, the consumption is within socially accepted or prescribed limits. For example, drinking some wine at a party. Slowly, one starts to misuse drugs, meaning unintentional or inappropriate use of prescribed or non-prescribed drugs. For instance, driving under the influence of alcohol or taking one sleeping pill over and above the prescribed dose. Eventually, one starts to abuse drugs wherein one deliberately uses chemical substances for reasons other than their intended medical purposes, resulting in serious physical, mental, emotional or social impairment. There are thin lines dividing drug use, misuse and abuse.

We need to be accountable as a society. Now, if we are to talk about illicit drugs, there are suppliers, middlemen and traffickers because there is a huge demand.

The geographical location of India between the golden crescent and the golden triangle makes our country a pathway for drug trafficking through the borders. Governments can play a role here by framing laws and insisting on law enforcement, whether it be on trafficking in illicit drugs or minimum drinking age or server liability. A global problem like this calls for a collective effort.

(The writer's email is abrahamroshin@gmail.com)

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