Drug Abuse: A Growing Menace

opioid epidemic

Us Quom Ko Shamsheer Ki Hajat Nahein Rehti

Ho Jis Kay Jawanun ki Khudi Surat’e Fawlaad.

(A nation whose youth are endowed with self as strong and hard as steel; No need of piercing swords in war such people can ever feel)- Allama Iqbal.

Youth represent nation’s future. Responsible, conscious, persevering and morally nurtured youth are a symbol of strong, progressive, and developing nation. In fact, the progress of country lies in the hands of youth. Negative deviation in their behavior can impinge upon the nation. Presently, all around the world youth are facing many problems ranging from social to personal. Nevertheless, many of them have deviated from the society’s values in multiple ways. The rising drug abuse among youth that has brought most of them to the brink of devastation is discernable deviation that has a negative impact on the fabric of the society and the entire nation.

Drug-abuse is habitual taking of illicit drugs, which is followed by addiction. The latter is a stage when the person becomes dependent on at least one illicit drug both physically and psychologically leading nowhere other than desolation. Drug addiction presents a serious public health problem, as it is associated with disproportionate costs of the society in terms of the spread of diseases, criminal activity, deaths on and off the roads, and disruption of families and communities.

Panickingly, at the global level, drug abuse and dependence is constantly increasing and is posing a challenge. And the state of Jammu and Kashmir being no exception presents a minacious scenario where according to the survey, more than 70,000 people are said to be addicts. The revelation that the females also abuse substances has added to the gravity of this problem.

According to studies, the etiology of drug addiction is related to genetics, self-medication, interpersonal factors, and glamorization of drug use by media etc. However, before we deliberate on these etiological factors and our youth would be consumed, why do not we go to the base of the problem? I.e., availability of illicit drugs. It does not need elucidation that the ‘easy access’ to the illicit drugs is a major contributive factor of drug addiction. If there would be no access to illicit drugs, even in presence etiological factors, how a person would be exposed to them. The illicit drugs are available through two ways 1) cultivation of illicit drug crops 2) illicit distribution and trafficking.

Recent reports from Narcotics Control Bureau of union Ministry divulged that J&K is one among the top states in India where maximum drug illicit crops are cultivated. In Kashmir, poppy and cannabis are being cultivated on large scales that are sources of two main illicit drugs used in the valley. These two crops have become a source of income and backbone of the economy for many but the impact it has on society in general and youth, in particular, is often understated. Similarly, stopping Illicit drug trafficking is of prime importance. In Kashmir, not only youth are consuming cannabis and opium; but the pharmaceutical drugs are also the latest rage among drug users. Additionally, use of heroin, codeine, morphine etc is also on the rise at an alarming pace that are availed by junkies through unlawful trafficking. Because of a huge margin involved in the cultivation of these crops and trafficking of these substances, their illegal cultivation and trade have prospered from last few years throughout Kashmir. Although police often claim to have taken action, yet the results are not encouraging. Neither the cultivation of such crops nor smuggling of other illicit drugs has been stymied. Undoubtedly, it is most challenging to block cultivation and smuggling but at the same time, it is the primary way to exterminate the problem of drug abuse. The Government must wake up to this grievous issue and take necessary steps to curb this menace.

To all intents and purposes, drug addiction as a social problem is not a concern of administration only. It is the responsibility of all and sundry to play a role. Parental role is of extreme significance. Parents involved in fosterage of child have a supervisory role also. Besides providing comfort, they need to supervise the activities of their children, guide them properly, and inculcate moral values in them. They need to be interested in affairs of their wards, their company, friend circle etc. Plus, by keeping track of their wards, parents can guard them against victimization.

Next is the role of society. Society can be instrumental in containing drug abuse. Citizens can fight this menace by being argus-eyed to the surroundings especially about behavior and attitude of youngsters in the locality. Instead of ostracizing the drug addicts, people need to treat and counsel them gently. People in society must understand them and help them to say ‘no’ to drugs. Moreover, People need to establish recreational centers, libraries and other sites of public interest in respective communities that can check perversity in youth. Also, people need to cooperate with authorities for facilitating action against culprits involved in promoting drug-abuse and addiction.

The NGOs, religious, and educational organizations need to come forward and engage more and more youth prolifically in social and religious work. This can create a sense of responsibility in youngsters and would subsequently prevent them from getting involved in the problem of drug addiction.

Though media outlets have somehow refrained from glamorization of drug use as was earlier witnessed through movies and other sources of entertainment, yet the part they are expected to play is lacking. Media is a powerful tool with maximal outreach, thus has a critical role in the creation of awareness about hazards of drug use. People associated with media have the opportunity to do yeoman’s service in this regard. They should not sleep over this matter instead; they need to contribute towards this cause actively.

Youth also must realize their significance in the society. Before experimenting with drugs, they need to think about a sequel. Its effect on their life, career, and mainly on character, which furnishes everything especially, coveted esteem.

Wohi Jawaan Hai Qabeeley Ki Aankh Ka Taara

Shabaab Jis ka Hai be-Daag, Zarb’e Hai Qaari

Nigah-e-Kam se Na Dekh Iss Ki bey Kulahi Ko

Ye be-kulah Hai Sarmaya-e- Kulah Dari

That Youngman is light of the eyes of the tribe; whose Youth is without blemish and blow deadly.

Do not look down upon his poverty; the poor man has pride of place among us all. (Allama Iqbal)

Nowadays there is more awareness of problems of the illicit drug than ever before. How to translate awareness into constructive action is the major challenge. However, we can meet this challenge by our collective efforts. The situation also demands timely action and there is no option other than discharging the duties collaboratively to fight out this menace that is taking a toll on our youth and is a threat to the whole nation.

 ZEESHAN RASOOL KHAN (Writes on current socio-political issues and can be mailed at [email protected])

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