Drug menace in Assam: An over view

The use of illegal drugs among the youth of Assam is now a major problem in society.
Drug menace in Assam: An over view

Dr Angirash Bhattacharyya

(Post Graduate Resident Department Of General Surgery, Gauhati Medical College & Hospital, angirashmedico@gmail.com)

The use of illegal drugs among the youth of Assam is now a major problem in society. If this goes on on this scale, the society will be educationally, socially, culturally and economically doomed within one or two decades. It will lead to irreversible and irreparable damage to the future generations of the state. The use of illicit drugs has now shadowed the mere foundations of our society. It is high time to induce a fight spearheaded by conscious throng before it's too late.

The main citable reasons behind such activities are mainly due to poor employment opportunities and less business scope for local people which leads to frustration among the youth. Increasing fall of personal relationships among the members of the family and society is also a leading cause. Freedom to children by parents which subsequently leads to loss of control over their children is one other cause. Keeping away children in vulnerable cities or environments in the name of education or coaching has been a pivotal reason for the illicit use of drugs. Drug trading is a highly profitable business. The failure of the earlier successive State Governments to gear up their machinery against drugs traders is one citable reason. Lastly, the poor campaign against drugs and proper agenda by social organizations are some of the causes for its rapid spread in the state.

Illicit drugs are categorized depending on their effect on the human body. These are

a) Cannabis: Hashish (charas), Marijuana, Shunk, Dope, Pot, Weed etc. b) Opioids: Opium including Doda, Phuki, Poppy Hask, Heroin including Brown Sugar, Smack and Pharmaceutical opioids etc.

c) Cocaine: Product of Coca plant, Coke, Blow, Charlie etc. d) ATS: Amphetamine Type of Stimulator, Billy, Whizz, Mephedrone, etc.

The process of use of the different drugs is different. Normally drugs are taken orally, by injectable routes or by inhalation.

The World Drugs report 2018, published by United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had compared Global, Asian and Indian National data which is very alarming.

Drugs trafficking means the production, distribution and sale of illegal drugs. And the worse is, it is constantly associated with murder, kidnapping, prostitution and crimes. For the last 3 decades, India has become a transit destination for Heroin and Hashish produced in 'Golden Triangle'. Due to the proximity of the North-Eastern region to the golden triangle, the trijunction of Myanmar, Thailand and Laos, is the worst-affected area. The geographical location and accessibility to drugs and other psychotropic substances have played a crucial role in spreading these activities deeply in Assam. The added reason is Assam sharing a poorly guarded border with its neighbouring states.

The proximity to the India-Pakistan Border to the Golden Crescent which comprises Afghanistan, Iran and Mexico, the largest producer of opium and Canabis, has made it vulnarable to the trafficking of Heroin and Hashish. Marijuana is imported from Latin America whereas Cocaine is trafficked from Mexico and Colombia.

The Effect of Drugs on the Human body:

The brain is the most important part of the human body affected when we consume intoxicating substances (illicit drugs). Under the influence of these drugs, our brain often releases a chemical that is known as dopamine. It gives euphoric feelings. So people often resort to these substances for getting relaxation and a nice time. This feeling, later on, creates a longing for this substance. Gradually the brain gets used to the amount of dopamine that is produced and is unable to function properly without it. In no time and before the user realize it forms a habit. They affect how we think, feel and behave.

Three main types of drugs are depressants, hallucinogens and stimulants.

Depressants depress (slow) the function of the central nervous system of the human body. This type of drug slows the messages transmitted to and from the brain. A small number of such drugs can make us feel relaxed, less inhibited and happy. In large quantities, it slows down our ability to respond to situations. It decreases blood pressure but increases heart rate. Depressants create mental illness, the problem of lung, throat and mouth. They may cause vomiting and even death. Canabis, Heroin, Morphine etc are the main depressants.

Hallucinogens distort the sense of reality. The user may see or hear the things that are in reality not there. Other effects of hallucinogens are emotional and psychological euphoria, panic, paranoia (fear that people might harm him/her). Mood swings and erratic behaviour are its common side effects.

Stimulants stimulate the central nervous system. They speed up the transmission to and from the brain making it more alert and confident. Stimulants may cause anxiety, panic attacks, seizures and sleeplessness. Cocaine, Caffeine, Amphetamines, etc are categorized as stimulants. If stimulants are injected, can cause the collapse of veins (thrombophlebitis), increased the risk of HIV and Hepatitis infection.

There is no safe level of illegal drugs. Illegal drugs are not controlled substances in production and packaging. Therefore quality and strength may differ from one batch to another. Moreover, the chances of adulteration are very high.

The use of illegal drugs is dangerously increasing in Guwahati and small towns like Nowgaon, Jorhat, Dibrugarh etc.

Assam police claim that there are about 3 lakhs drug users in Assam. But the Comparative study published by the United Nation Office On Drugs and Crime (UNODC) shows that total drugs users in Assam are about 2.21% of the total population which are about 7.5 lakhs. The alcohol users are not included in the figure.

Many people from different parts of Assam and also North East region send their children to Guwahati for Education, Coaching and for finding new avenues in business. A section of people sent their child to metros for Education or jobs. Such youths might find themselves as the common targets. Moreover, the easy availability of these substances makes it an easy resort in times of personal loss or professional failure.

In Guwahati, the places commonly used drugs traffickers for drug distribution are solitary, isolated places where the youth gathers routinely. They also take the help of part-time maidservants for transportation of drugs so that their movements are not suspected.

The treatment of drug addicts is normally carried out by the psychiatrist in Drug De-addiction Centre (DDC). They try and help to make him/her back to the real world so that they can lead a normal life. During the process collaboration with other departments like Medicine, etc are also required.

The treatment of drugs addicted patients is very difficult as they do not cooperate with doctors and medical staff. Only 25% of addicted patients willingly go to doctors. During treatment, round the clock supervision is required as drug repulsive syndrome occurs which makes the patient violent. The patient may even try to commit suicide. Sometimes the patient threatens the doctor and staff by asking for drugs. So, the help and active cooperation of family members, relatives and as a whole society are of utmost importance in treating such patients. There are about 52 rehabilitation centres in Guwahati which indicate the severity of drug addiction in Assam.

The recent move by the Government of Assam giving operational freedom to Assam Police against drugs trafficker has undoubtedly reduced the circulation of drugs. It has cut down the chain from the entry of drugs to fall in the hands of peddlers and ultimately the general throng. But this has also lead to decreased supply of drugs to people who are already addicted. Reports are being noted that drug users are suffering from Withdrawal Symptoms (uncontrolled involuntary body response/ movements due to the need for drugs by the body) for which they have turned hostile. Some have also resorted to suicide. Hope the government zero tolerance on drugs decreases the burden of drug inflicted people in the state. Here due consideration and congruence in planning should be ensured so that already addicted people also do not suffer and their need for drugs is gradually tapered with proper de-addiction care. Ultimately addiction does not act as the straight-jacket of a person, in particular, rather it falters the basic foundations of growth of a state.

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