Growing Drug abuse and adolescence 

Suman Kr. Chakrabarti*          

All this days when there is tremendous development of It sector/communications, but the quality of life of many people are far behind than the potential that exists. Every medical shop is crowded with customers in queue to purchase a drug for sustenance. But on several occasions there are instances that the essential drug is also abused in the hand on a intelligent abuser, e.g methamphetamine sold under the trade name of Desoxyn was used to cure uncontrolled obesity, but its potential as a drug of abuse has compelled the FDA to issue complete ban of this drug. Keeping aside its therapeutic use, Nitrazepam is a popularly abused drug. Recent reports show that that in Delhi even kids of 8-10 years are getting addicted to substance abuse.

Broadly speaking a drug is any substance that when absorbed in the body of living organism alters the normal body function. According to pharmacology, drug it is a chemical substance used in treatment, cure, prevention or diagnosis of a disease.  The use of the drug for any other purpose than its prescribed pharmaceutical use in one or the other form is coined as Drug Abuse.

Adolescence is a period and a process during which a child becomes mature in terms of his or her attitude and beliefs for effective participation in the society – a bridge between the childhood and adulthood. This stage is accompanied by changes in several biological and behavioral attitudes. It is a very vulnerable stage and phase of mental and psychological development of an individual. Curiosity to every aspect of life, particularly to the restricted zones like sex or pornography or drugs are very closely associated with the mental, physical and the psychological change during this period. There was a common perception that young stars are indulged to drug abuse due to failure, frustration and poverty, but the conception has changed. The need for adventure and excitement and experimentation in the adolescent, motivates the young stars to drug and alcohol abuse except a few. The first phase may be out of curiosity and experimentation but later they start using them to avoid and escape from facing problems in life.

Lone child in a nuclear family and lack of quality time exposure with family, easiest access to mobile and internet are the provocating factors. There is a perception that it is very ‘COOL’, ‘LOOK SMART’ or ‘PROGRESSIVE’ to smoke or use drug and alcohol. TV/movies and of course uninterrupted internet access via mobile phones are likely help to promote such perceptions. Unsupported and unstable family structure, loneliness, a very common phenomenon of modern society and peer pressure are highly associated with drug and alcohol abuse.

Drug addiction and dependence : The most important thing that one fails to realize is the inherent nature of drugs –ADDICTION- which is a psychological attachment to certain effects like euphoria or temporary feeling of well being associated with drug abuse. The addiction or addictive nature of the drug drives the addict for a repeated use even then it is not necessary.

The first prick of JOY turns into prick of death”.

With this addictive nature the tolerance limit of the receptors in our body increase and they start responding only to higher doses due to greater intake. Most important certain drugs –used only once- can be the forerunner of addition. The addictive nature pulls the user into a vicious circle leading to the regular abuses and is unable to get out from it. This develops ‘Drug Dependence’ a tendency of the body to manifest a characteristic and unpleasant withdrawal syndrome. The withdrawal syndrome is characterized by anxiety, shakiness, nausea, vomiting, sweating, restlessness etc, all relived only when the drug is used again.

            In several instances the withdrawal syndrome can be very severe and even life threatening, person in such cases need extreme medical care and attention.

Signs and dangers of drug abuse : A sudden drop in academic performances, unexplained absence from school and colleges, depression, fatigue, lack of personal hygiene, isolation, and a peculiar aggressiveness and rebellion- all this lead to detoriating relationship with family and friends, loss of interest in hobbies, change in sleeping and eating habits, fluctuation in weight or appetite. And most important relationship with some unknown faces and away from house or family for a long unusual hours.  Such abusers are also in need of money for higher doses and they turn to stealing or robbery and other anti social activities.

Some drug of abuse also indulge the users in sexual offences b y their way of increasing the aphrodisiac effect. The addict becomes a cause of mental and family distress and a concern for the law enforcement agencies. The use of combination of drugs with alcohol is extremely fatal and can lead to sudden death. In adolescent period in males and females, there may be severe facial and body acne, closure of growth centers of the long bone resulting in stunted growth. The abusers often use the same syringe for intake of intravenous drugs. They become highly prone to acquire virus transferred from the infected bodies to non infected persons like Hepatitis B and AIDS

            Chronic or repeated use of drugs or alcohol damages the nervous system and liver. Some sports persons are abusing certain drugs for elevated performance. But in time it adversely affects the abusers and create complicated problems like abnormal hair and breast growth(in males), enlarged clitoris, mood swings, decreased sperm production and in future deformed babies, kidney and liver dysfunction, baldness, enlargement of prostrate glands. The combined effect of such ill effects results in sudden unexplained and immature death.

Prevention and control: Check your adolescent and observe any unusual behavior. Keep track of the mobile phone activities - the biggest boon and worst curse of today’s society. The users often spend more time in toilets for intake of drugs. Check for unusual smell or compound in the wearing apparels/bags. Parenting that combines with high level of nurturance and consistent discipline lowers the risk of drug abuse, involvement in various activities can and help to stay away from drug abuse.

Best is to identify the situations that may push an adolescent towards the drug or alcohol abuse, and to take remedial measures well in time. Our society also needs to change their attitudes towards the addicts and extend help to come out of the menace. The male and female at this stage are also now a days in a never ending rat race to reach the top ten. Help to avoid undue peer pressure and support own choice, keep track of danger signs, if any.

Lastly do not be scared to feel shame to tell about any drug addict. Hiding leads to more complications. Proper medical care with counseling associated with parental care can surely help to get out of it. The good news is that ‘Drug abuse is a preventable behaviour & Drug Addiction is treatable disease.                                                                                                                         

*Dy. Director, FSL, Tripura