Government steps in to check drug abuse among youth

April 15th, 2008 - 11:59 am ICT by admin  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, April 15 (IANS) The government has decided to step in and do its bit to check growing drug abuse among youngsters. It will soon initiate a series of workshops and interactive sessions across big cities to fight the trend. The first brainstorming session is scheduled for May 15 in Chennai that will see psychiatrists, government and police officials, representatives of IT firms and call centre employees taking part, said Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Subbulakshmi Jagadeesan.

“It is the beginning of a sustained drive to save our youths from the evils of drug abuse. They often fall back on drugs to de-stress themselves. It is an ominous trend, and must be curtailed at the earliest,” Jagadeesan told IANS over the phone from Manikampalayam, Erode, Tamil Nadu.

She said these brainstorming sessions would be organised in cities like Bangalore, Pune, Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Hyderabad to sensitise stakeholders - family, friends and employees of drug addicts - and evolve a mechanism to carry out awareness programmes regularly.

“Very often I get disturbing accounts of drug addicts from de-addiction centres. Our brilliant youngsters are getting caught in the morass of drug abuse and spend their hard-earned money on drugs. Some interventions, I feel, will certainly help in checking the trend.”

As minister of state, Jagadeesan monitors, among other things, the ministry’s scheme for prevention of alcoholism and substance drugs abuse.

At present, around 200,000 drug addicts attend the around 400 ministry-assisted de-addiction centres across the country. The voluntary organisations running these centres received over Rs.200 million as assistance in 2006-07 as grant-in-aid from the ministry.

A majority of the centres are located in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, many of them near big cities where the ministry will organise interactive sessions with stakeholders.

“I want to develop a mechanism to nip the tendencies of drug abuse among the youths in particular and others in general in the bud. It will be possible only when all the stakeholders sit together to discuss the pros and cons of the problem,” Jagadeesan said.

Since drug abuse defies the urban-rural divide, the ministry of social justice and empowerment is considering setting up de-addiction centres at the panchayat levels too.

The industry chambers and doctor bodies have welcomed the move.

“It is certainly a welcome initiative and should be expanded across the country. The trend of drug abuse among different sections of society including certain segments of professionals like IT and BPO is quite visible,” Ranjan Roy, advisor, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci), told IANS.

“There is, however, a need to look at the problem in a larger context. College and schools students too take drugs. They are neither high earning people nor stressed. So are the street urchins. A collective mechanism is needed to fight drug abuse.”

S.N. Mishra, secretary general of Indian Medical Association (IMA), agreed with Roy.

“Creating awareness is the only solution to the problem. All stakeholders need to be sensitised about the problem of growing drug abuse among the young generations. It is going to be a major social and health problem. The abuse of drugs drastically reduces the body’s immunity,” Mishra said.

“Addiction is a chronic brain disease that causes compulsive drug seeking and use despite harmful consequences. Drug addiction leads to changes in the structure and function of the brain.”

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