International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, 26 June
2018 Theme “Listen First”
Listen First – Listening to the children and the youth is the first step to help them be safe and grow healthily.”
The best years of our lives are during our teenage. We are loaded with curiosity, enthusiasm and positive energy. It is also a time of experimentation. While it is the time of learning, we have to be conscious that some experiments might also prove dangerous. Peer pressure, attention seeking behaviours and sense of inferiority might drive the youth to habits such as ‘Drug’ use. Often what begins as a fun experiment progressively becomes addictive and abusive. The individual loses motivation to change oneself even though he/she begins to experience the harmful effects in their life. Gradually, it mars the image of the person in the society, while beginning to cause lasting damage to body and brain. In such cases the individuals might show conduct disorders like antisocial behaviour or sexual harassment.
According to Childline India, the rate of drug abuse among children and adolescents is higher than the general population as adolescence is a time for experimentation and identity forming. Survey revealed that 63.6% of patients coming in for treatment were subject to drugs by the age of 15. It said that another report suggested that 13.1% of those involved in substance abuse in India were under the age of 20. It stated that heroin, opium, cannabis, propoxyphene and alcohol are the most common narcotics used among children.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were 3,647 suicide cases in India in 2014, of which Maharashtra reported the highest, at 1,372. This was followed by Tamil Nadu, with 552 cases and Kerala, with 475. In a nationwide study conducted by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre and AIIMS, New Delhi, brought out in 2013, 60.9 per cent of children living at home had used alcohol within the last month of the survey, while the figure for street children was 41.9 per cent.
The concerning aspect for those dealing with vulnerable children is the lack of adequate infrastructure to deal with young age addictions in Tamilnadu. Mrs.Divya Karthick., Managing Partner & Counselling Psychologist of WOW- Mind & Behavioural Clinic mentioned that it’s time that exclusive de-addiction centres are set up for children and it must carry out bio-psycho-social model intervention. Experts like Prof. Shanmugavelayutham of TN Forces, point to the adverse effect of de-addiction centers where children end up learning about the usage of hard drugs from experienced inmates. The role of the Central and State governments, particularly the public health ministries and departments, is an essential aspect of this fight against drug abuse.
While the organized action of the State is pivotal, Parents play a far more crucial role in prevention, early detection and support for complete recovery. They need to inform themselves about the distinct pressures that the teenagers have to face today like intense advertising, social media influence, societal and parental pressures, and insecurities caused by the social environment of our times. Parents should develop a strategy early on their child’s life to communicate and support them during stressful times and aid them so that they do not lean on alcohol or drugs as coping strategies. Parents should be approachable and amiable while communicating such issues, so that they can open up about such issues which are difficult to handle at that particular age. Creating a safe, supportive environment within which to discuss the risks associated with alcohol and drug use is mandatory. Don’t be afraid that by talking about drugs you will peak their curiosity and temptation. They will hear about drugs whether you bring it up or not, and if as a parent you can get the first word on this topic, you will be ahead of the game when peers begin to pressure your teen into using illegal substances. Parents should clearly communicate what they expect from their children and make them to set valuable goals for progressing fruitfully in life.
As teenagers it is hard not to conform to societal pressures but being a part of this “abusive world” is not worth it. It may seem enticing and glamorous but in the end all it does is create chaos. So this is your chance to rebel, rebel against substance abuse.
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