The excessive and unregulated use of drugs which is popularly called drug abuse or drug addiction has emerged as a major social problem recently and has crossed the border of caste, class, creed, sex and nation.
It is like a curse for a developing country like India as it has already existing problems like poverty, unemployment and overpopulation. Drug abuse affects individuals, their families and the society as a whole. Drug abuse often leads to crime as a result of reduced impulse control, paranoia and negligence. Thus, effects the law and order, economic production and human welfare.
Drug abuse implies physical dependence upon a drug including the development of tolerance and withdrawal. An addict who develops tolerance requires more and more of the drug to transport him to the world of fantasies. If the addict is not allowed to take the drug he suffers from painful and uncontrollable convulsions, vomiting, depression and various other maladies.
If one looks at the causes of the spread of his evil, the changes in the traditional pattern of society emerge as the major one. Rapid industrialization and urbanization have ushered in a new way of life with new values like individualism and permissiveness. This has resulted in lessening of informal means of social control, for example, influence of conventional sophistication but have low frustration tolerance. The stresses and strains of modern life with resulting frustration and depression give rise to escapist tendencies. Way to materialism and consumerism and the resulting alienation also has a bearing on the present day trend. Anonymity of our big cities is providing a favorable environment of drug addicts.
Family has also shown changes in its structure and function recently. As a result parental control is less today because of the working situation of both the parents. Break up of joint family also means less control over the young people. Stressful home environment and broken home are often the contributory factors. If a child’s basic needs like security, response, recognition and development are not adequately met at home, he develops feelings of inadequacy, frustration and emotional insecurity. He seeks to derive satisfaction from any other source and comes in contact with with unscrupulous persons. Delinquent gangs or pear group fulfill various needs of a dissatisfied adolescent and provide rationalization to engage in drug-use. Failure or maladjustment at school and unable to satisfy expectations of their parents leads many a young man to drug addiction.
Thus, drug abuse is a multifaceted problem which has to be tackled in the social context. A comprehensive approach towards awareness building, preventive education, counseling and guidance, do-addiction, follow-up and rehabilitation of addicts in needed. And in this task the governmental efforts have to be vigorously supported by the collective initiatives of people themselves. Parents, teachers, social workers, opinion leaders, youth and voluntary organization have to play an important role to motivate the youth to keep away from drugs.
Besides the family, peer groups and teachers, counselors and guides have an important role play in the strategy for prevention of drug abuse. Schools, colleges and other educational institutions should-provide facilities for personal, vocational and educational guidance and also encourage them to make use of such facilities. Adolescents specially need training to develop self-control, tolerance, strengthening their identity and development of self-concept to face the world boldly. A drug addict being a helpless individual may not come forward for treatment or counseling. So he must be carefully supervised by someone close to him. providing hope and trust a drug addict should be rehabilitated.
Counseling helps and addict to change his behavior and adapt a new attitude and values. Counseling is a deliberate effort to help a person to sort out his problems in a rational way, to clarify the conflicts and issues in his life and to discuss the feasibilities of various courses of action. This done to enable the person to assume the responsibility of making choices.
Legal measures are necessary to deal with the rising trend of drug addiction. narcotic and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 and Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1988 have been brought into force all over the country to deal with the problem more effectively. The former Act provides for punishment of rigorous imprisonment for 10 years, which may extend to 30 years and also a minimum fine of Rs. 1 lakh. With the death penalty introduced and the forfeiture of assets, it ranks now as one of the very powerful laws and once of the highest deterrents. Even consumption of narcotic drugs is an offence under the Act with punishment ranging from 6 months to 1 year. However, an addict can be given a one time chance by the court to seek treatment.
It is essential to create awareness among people about the horrible consequences of drug addiction. Radio, TV, Newspapers, Cinema, theatre, Drama, street plays, voluntary organization’ efforts etc. are the important means to create an awareness and consciousness of the prevention of drug abuse. Socio-cultural programmes including essay, debate, poster competitions, film shows, exhibitions etc. need to be promoted in education institutions.
Any society can survive only on certain principles of morality and orderly behavior. This had been stressed by several thinkers. it is not too late to realize the seriousness of the problem of drug addition. This could be the most suitable occasion to quote Aldous Huxley”.. pen is mightier than sword. But mightier than the pen or the sword is the pill”. Huxley’s point emphasis the possibility of pill, all consuming. Before such a catastrophe overtakes our youth, we must act.