GUWAHATI, Jan 6 – The danger of substance abuse is growing in Guwahati, with boys and girls getting addicted at younger ages than before. Cutting across the economic divide, more people in their adolescent stage are becoming dependent on a range of dangerous chemicals. The variety of substances has also widened, and some of them with legitimate use are easily accessible to buyers. This has been revealed in a report prepared by North East Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses (NESPYM), and which is also being updated with more new findings.
The report states – ‘The exact number of chemical substance users cannot be determined. But 1 in 5, to 1 in 4 of males between 18 to 35 years of age are using some sort of substance or other.’ In the case of tobacco in various forms the estimate will be 1 in 3. No less worrying is the fact that 1 in 10 to 1 in 5 end up becoming ‘addicts’.
It was found that the substance most commonly used (in terms of total number of users) are tobacco in various forms, alcohol – both local and IMFL, cannabis, cough syrup, sleeping pills, Eraz-ex and dendrite, heroin and heroin derivatives.
Speaking to The Assam Tribune, Dr Chiranjeeb Kakoty of NESPYM said that the problem is becoming more acute over time, and unless addressed it can jeopardize the future of a large section among the new generation. Young people from affluent families as well from economically weaker background are becoming substance users at an alarming rate.
According to Dr Kakoty, a section of chemical substance users are involved in negative activities. ‘In a majority of these cases the parents and in some cases, even spouses, are either ignorant of such involvement or they pretend to be ignorant of these activities.’
A significant number of young girls too have been found to be using some form of substance, some of whom had to undergo treatment. There have been cases of girls becoming substance users with their parents or siblings remaining oblivious to it.
During 2011-2012 , MASHWARA, the drug deaddiction and rehabilitation Centre run by NESPYM alone had treated 137 chemical substance users. The centre has been functioning since 1994-1995 with the assistance of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (earlier known as Ministry of Welfare), Government of India. Violence with family members or girl friends for acquiring money to buy the chemicals, stealing money and other belongings from family members and others, and intimidation to get money and collection of donation on false pretext are often linked to the practice of substance abuse.
According to crime records, car lifting directly or helping others in car lifting, pimping and trafficking, along with drug dealing are also committed by those who have become addicts.