Substance abuse on rise in Northeast during COVID-19 induced lockdown

The thrill in scoring junk has become more addictive than the drugs itself that most addicts are willing to do anything and everything just to extract that few hours of euphoric high it provides

With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increase in the sale of alcohol and other illegal drugs with the demand skyrocketing as never before. According to a recent statistical report, alcohol consumption is increasing in India and so is the usage of drugs.
Due to the closure of places such as parks, restaurants, gaming cafes, and other leisure hotspots, many youths are in search of a "new type of fun" outside their normal boundaries. Some of the dry states in India where liquor is prohibited or banned from selling have the most consumption rate.
According to some daily alcohol consumers from these states 'Dry State' is just a tag where bootlegging is rampant. It is reported that the price for a Rs 100 bottle of alcohol is being sold for Rs 250 or more.
And because of the lockdown being in place, the price for even the cheapest bottle of liquor is being sold at triple the normal rate. However, this hasn't stopped nor decreased the cycle of demand.
In fact, the demand has become so rampant that most bootleggers are running out of liquor and they are worried as to how to bring the next consignment of liquor into the state illegally.
This has caused a lot of chaos in society with the number of deaths and alcohol-related diseases rising at a new level. Also, reports suggest that locally made moonshine liquors are becoming a huge demand among those that have been affected financially.
And along with the alcohol-related issues another competition is on the rise, i.e. drugs. Those occasional drug users are now turning into everyday junkies because of the unavailability of the product.
The thrill in scoring junk has become more addictive than the drugs itself that most addicts are willing to do anything and everything just to extract that few hours of euphoric high it provides.
Most of the states in the Northeast have been badly affected due to the easy access of supply. Some of those states bordering other countries have seen their share of drug overdoses, deaths, and huge consignments of drug busts.
Due to the closure of places such as parks, restaurants, gaming cafes, and other leisure hotspots, many youths are in search of a "new type of fun" outside their normal boundaries.
Still, this hasn't stopped drug dealers, peddlers and users from wanting the product. The most popular among those drugs are heroin, methamphetamine, cough syrup containing codeine and other opioid painkillers. A recent interview with an addict on how the current Pandemic is affecting their everyday lives replied, "The number of drug users is increasing every single day.
Representative Image
Image: Representative Image
Even those juveniles between the ages of 15-17 are hooked on either injecting or smoking heroin. And ever since the lockdown began, the prices of the drugs have increased so much that Rs 500 will get you just one hit if you are lucky.
Before the lockdown, Rs 500 was enough for the day to pass, but now, you'd need at least Rs 2000 just to feed your day's habit. Most people are now either stealing or robbing people's houses because there is no source of income for anyone.
HIV cases are bound to increase along with suicides and in all honesty, this lockdown is creating more criminals when in fact it should be rehabilitating the existing ones.
When asked if the government is doing anything to help the addicts, an official said, "Yes, there are some clinics where addicts are given counseling and Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST).
It is really helpful but not many addicts are aware that such a place exists and it's a shame. OST is free and many addicts have overturned their lives into a better person.
While some are aware of it, none of their family members are willing to support or help them get there and if an addict who is willing to change has no love understanding, or support from anyone, the chances are 10 to nothing.
It is crucial for each and every one of us to overlook social stigmas and boundaries and try our best to help another person even if it is our loved ones or someone with addiction issues.
Assuring them that they are not alone during these harsh times and supporting them morally, socially even if we are financially constrained will really help another soul reach that curtain beyond which lies hope, dreams and a new life to begin.



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