Wednesday, March 22, 2023

A failure

As stated earlier in this column, the problem of substance abuse is becoming more pressing today considering the rate of increase in the number drugs addicts. Drug addiction is not the problem of addiction only. There are other associated problems which make substance abuse, and drug addiction, a very complex issue. Today all the regulatory and law enforcement agencies created to prevent people from falling prey to substance abuse have not been able to check the menace. It appears a nexus is working here which is direct beneficiary of the menace of substance abuse. They use diverse tactics to trap the gullible youth and in many cases they get trapped. The absence of proper parental supervision, societal checks and near indifference of law enforcement agencies make the task easy for this nexus. For profits and material gains this nexus is ready to go to any extent. Coming to the law enforcement agencies, it is found that they are not ready to take up the challenge of drug addiction under the current circumstances. They always remain engaged with the law and order situation. They hardly get time, and lack adequate resources to deal with the problem. Lack of specialists and specialized agencies are other handicaps which results in the shortfall of these agencies in accomplishing their task of prevention and cure of substance abuse. The absence of focus in the government towards the problem of drug addiction is a big factor in the increased rate of substance abuse. The government many times in the past tried even to lift the curbs on alcohol. Despite these bans and curbs alcohol today is freely available in the state. (Now it is reported that the government has now decided to partially lift the more than 30-years old Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) Act of 1989 from the new financial year starting April this year). This insensitivity is again displayed by almost complete absence of regulatory mechanism of medicines and drugs. The drugs that are abused can be easily purchased from the open market. Not only that, many doctors freely prescribe these drugs; one wonders why. In fact antidepressants are drugs of first choice for many doctors here in the state. These causes, and few others, which might have not been covered here have left the space wide open for drug addiction to grow. If immediate corrective measures are not taken a stage might reach where the damage done could be irreparable. This time the trend can be reversed if proper methods and mechanisms are adopted and implemented. All it needs is will, and inclusive participation of individuals, society, and government agencies. As a first step, all the causes should be careful looked into and studied thoroughly. Where the reestablishment of the balancing forces of the society is needed, they should not only be reestablished but also invigorated to deal with the threat of substance abuse. If any practices that were conductive for our sustainable, and successful, existence have been given up and replaced by the modern ones where drug addiction is acceptable, the former sustainable practices and life styles should be adopted. The issues of insecurity, unemployment and uncertainty should be dealt with. Law enforcement agencies should be provided with adequate number of specialists who could deal with the problem scientifically and more effectively. Literally, specialized agencies within the law enforcement agencies should be created to deal with the problem at every level from prevention to de-addiction and rehabilitation. In the meanwhile, it should be impressed upon the law enforcement agencies not to neglect the issue of drug abuse while dealing with law and order situation. They should make this equally important priority as the law and order. Somewhere both are related. At the same time adequate moral education and raising the moral standards of the society could go a long way in improving the situation. All the regulating agencies and control mechanisms should be equipped to deal with the problem of easy access to drugs which are used in substance abuse. Plus, all the beneficiaries of this black trade, and the doctors who prescribe these drugs without investing any thought process, should be taken to task.