Dr. Amitha Mundenchira
Illicit drugs pose a health danger to humanity and have a detrimental impact on society – this is well known. However, prescription drugs can also pose a problem when used for attaining pleasure or new experiences – for example, sedatives like Valium, stimulants like Ritalin, and narcotics like Vicodin. The consequent physical or psychological harm resulting from such unhealthy use of these drugs is termed as drug abuse. There is a psychological/physical dependence on the effects of the drugs.
A new dimension in drug abuse has been its use by sports persons to enhance their potential. The use of drugs among children is most shocking – they take to it in defiance and deviance to the social values. Some children accept it under peer group pressure, while others take to this due to weakening of emotional bonds with their own family. In rural areas of South Asia, there is use of drugs for religious purposes. In an urban setting, it is also used to relieve fatigue and also a source of entertainment. Use of intravenous drugs leading to HIV/AIDS has led to increase in the crime rate because addicts are uninhibited and resort to crime to pay for their drugs. There has been an increase in smuggling and peddling of those drugs due to numerous economic advantages.
The disintegration of the old joint family system, absence of parental love and care in modern families where both parents are working, decline of traditional values etc increase the risk of drug addicts who take drugs to escape hard realities of life. Apart from affecting the financial stability, addiction causes untold emotional pain for every member of the family. The damage to the physical, psychological, moral and intellectual growth of the youth is very high.
SOUTH ASIANS AT RISK
Punjabi Community Health Services has offices in Brampton and Malton. Its South Asian Addiction Program provides help and support to clients who are dealing with alcohol and drug abuse. According to a 2009 study conducted by them, the substance abuse/addiction problems in South Asian community were seen predominantly in married males, from India; this was seen more in people who have had at least some secondary school education, employed as laborers, truck and taxi drivers in the age group of 25-45. Alcohol was found to be the primary substance abused, followed by opiates. Most clients were chronic abusers of more than 5-10 years. Another study from a different source showed that South Asian women may be abusing prescription drugs rather than risk being caught drinking because it is not socially acceptable for women to drink. Reasons of alcohol abuse by men and of prescription drug abuse by women may be the same – physical pain, depression, some other mental health issue. In both cases, there is a failure to realise the highly addictive potential of these substances.
The United Nations General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The UN Conventions have established the world drug control system. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) continue their work on international drug control.
India is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of precursor chemicals for various drugs, controlled substances like licit prescription drugs despite the government’s control efforts in cooperation with global partners. Opium is illicitly grown in India; licit drugs produced in India are sold through illegal Internet pharmacies and trafficked through the misuse of courier services. India is training its national enforcement officers, and is vigorously exploiting opportunities for international cooperation. Unfortunately, unpunished corruption limits the effectiveness of India’s efforts. The only positive development is the establishment of de-addiction and detoxification centers. However, these centers are expensive. Voluntary associations have also been doing a commendable task.
In short, prevention of initiation or escalation of drug abuse starts from home. Growing up and living in a nurturing and supportive environment where there is free communication is important. Richmond Addiction Services has produced a document to guide a nonuser to help his/her loved ones with a problem – http://www.richmondaddictions.ca/images/stories/session%205.pdf
(1)SAJMMR Volume 2, Issue 5 (May, 2012) ISSN 2249-877X South Asian Academic Research Journals
Dr. Amitha Mundenchira is a family physician