Friday, March 31, 2023
Top Stories

A kaleidoscope of drug abuse in Nagaland on World Drug Day

Nagaland News

KOHIMA, JUNE 25: Nagaland, along with the rest of the world, will be observing World Drug Day on June 26 on the theme: Addressing drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises.
The theme has been conceptualised in the wake of widespread humanitarian crises in Afghanistan and Ukraine even as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a major global health crisis.
A cursory look at the present reality of addiction issues in the State depicts a picture where much intervention is needed from the Government as well as the CSOs and the Churches.
President of Ark Foundation Kohima, Ketho Angami, in an interaction with Nagaland Page, said that the Nagaland Substance Abuse Policy 2016 needs to be amended and budgeted.
Even the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1956 and the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1958 has declared that “addiction is a disease, drug users’ rights should be protected”, Angami said.
“But the sad reality is that drug addicts are sent to jail in our State in present times. The consequence of sending a drug addict to prison is that they are exposed to hardcore criminals. Subsequently, when the same person is caught for the second time, they are charged for extortion and booked under the Arms Act”, he said.
Pointing out that Section 64A of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act provides immunity from prosecution to addicts volunteering for treatment, Angami maintained that there are many instances where this provision of the Act has not been provided to people and were sent to prison straight away.
Angami also stressed on the need for an exclusive female counselling centre as there are none in the State at the moment.
“Being a female drug user, there is double stigma. They are invisible not only in society but even in terms of governmental policies and undertaking, the women spectrum of drug users is yet to be addressed comprehensively.
“The reality is: there are 30-40 drug injecting female users just in Kohima alone. This figure is excluding the ones who resort to oral consumption such as Spasmo-Proxyvon T Plus capsule and cough syrups. The fear of identity disclosure is so high that many are reluctant to come forward”, he said.
Even though Nagaland has rehab centres spread across the State, Angami said that one cannot expect females to come forward for help in a male-dominated place.
Another pressing issue in the State that needs immediate attention from Government agencies, NGOs, the civil society organisations and the Church is for all of them to come together with a sense of shared responsibility, and organise awareness drives with the Government as the main facilitator, he said.
However, the initiative from the Government seldom happens and consequently the NGOs are left without a direction. Moreover, financial resources are needed to organise awareness programmes but NGOs, being non-profit organisations, cannot conduct such programmes on a daily basis, he said.
The churches still remain the most resourceful and powerful organisation in creating awareness and initiating action against illicit drug use. However, in terms of creating awareness even within a community or among the church members, only few churches are doing it actively, he said.
It must be noted that Nagaland has 1649 churches under NBCC alone. Considering the number of churches actively in the fight against illicit drug use, the percentage is very less, Angami added.
The State also needs to set up an outreach programme for drug users inside prisons.
Prison institutions must provide life skill education training, counselling care, referrals, and treatment is important to keep them away from substance use after their release from the institution, he said.
With the wide availability of new illicit drugs in street markets, adolescents including females are getting introduced into the habit of oral and injecting drug use, he said.
A youth-friendly service centre and outreach for these groups of young adolescent must be set up in the State. If this is not done at the earliest, then there is a big chance of the drug trend mushrooming in the State in the near future.
Ark Foundation, in the first 5 months this year, has worked with 119 adolescents involved with drug abuse in Kohima alone. In the same timeline, the Foundation has also worked with 128 adolescents in Wokha.
(Page News Service)