While the alleged Bollywood drug nexus is making headlines, mainstream media is overlooking a very pertinent angle. Drug and alcohol abuse in our country has increased during the ongoing pandemic. While there are no official surveys yet to establish the surge in intake, authorities of rehabilitation and de-addiction centres are forthcoming about how new cases are being reported to them in increasing numbers in recent months. "Even emergency police help lines catering to women and children in acute distress corrobate the statement that drug and alcohol consumption has indeed an ugly aftermath of the lockdowns and pandemic," says Indrani Barua a senior woman IPS officer. "Because in most cases the perpetrator is an alcoholic or drug addict. And what is most disturbing from a social wellness point of view is that many among them have resorted to excessive drinking or drugs now. In other words they are not chronic alcoholics or substance addicts," she observes. "Alarmingly during the pandemic the demand for drugs (and also alcohol) has indeed risen as the prices have undergone a momentous hike," says a young adult on the ground of anonymity.
Probably it is the need of the hour to introspect why substance abuse is spiraling upwards in these days that are anyway fraught with a host of complex (often interlinked) social and economic problems. Man is essentially a social animal and the strict stay-at-home orders for extended periods obviously made many depressed and lonely. Hence substance reliance and addiction became a reality unfortunately for many. "On the other hand job losses, financial hurdles and looming uncertainty have caused many people to seek resort in alcohol and drugs. It is actually just an escape route,' says Rima Sharma a psychiatrist.
Authorities have unsuccessfully tried to stop the flow or usage of contrabandsAuthorities have unsuccessfully tried to stop the flow or usage of contrabands. The situation on the contrary has worsened in recent years as even young children between 10 and 14 years of age are falling prey to drugs. With alcohol too the situation is not too different. There is no shadow of doubt that during the stage of adolescence, our body undergoes changes. With this our urges to experience and do newer things expands as well. Therefore many youngsters tread on this forbidden alley of drugs and alcohol for the sheer high of the momentary exhilaration. "However with proper adult guidance these youngsters can be brought back on the right track," says Sharma. "After all it is no new knowledge that alcohol and drugs bring nothing but grief and sorrow to the users and their families. It also causes serious health issues and untimely death."
So how can the situation be immediately addressed? "People need to be motivated to come together for social causes and there are multiple new causes that are berthing in these stress ridden chaotic times. Learning new skills, connecting with likeminded people and starting entrepreneurial ventures or online hobby clubs are great distractions from alcohol," says Sharma. According to her drug de-addiction is more complex and needs intervention from a psychiatrist or counselor.
Lastly all addicts should self introspect and ask- will these intoxicating substances free me from my worries permanently?