KATHMANDU, Feb 3: When Ram Shrestha (name changed) from Bhaktapur was studying in class eight, he started doing drugs under the influence of his friends. Yet, he continued his studies and while pursuing his Bachelor’s degree, he was caught using drugs which got him expelled from the college. For the past three months he has been receiving treatment from Mukti Kendra Rehabilitation Centre in Nakhipot, Kathmandu. He says, “I started out with my friends thinking I’ll use it just once and then stop. But later, I just couldn’t stop myself.”
Another youth from Ramechhap district is undergoing treatment at the Youth Vision Gothatar Rehabilitation Centre. According to him, his family situation led him to drug abuse. Apart from these examples, there are many school children who are trapped in the quagmire of drug abuse.
There are many examples of youths and their substance abuse problems. However, in recent times, it is the school students who are coming under the influence of drugs, say the organizations who are working to treat drug abusers. Youth Vision Gothatar Rehabilitation Centre’s Director, Rajendra Puri estimates that there has been a 3% growth amongst drug abusing school children compared to the past 10 years.
According to the Narcotics Control Bureau’s recent survey, 28% of school students are drug abusers. The report was prepared after a survey of 100 drug dealers and abusers.
How do children start using drugs?
Experts say that it is the weakness of schools and parents that lead to children turning to drugs. At 13 or 14 years of age, children’s curiosity is at its peak. This is due to the hormones that accompany them as they step towards adolescence. The absence of good guidance at this stage of their lives will lead them towards bad habits, and also drug abuse, states experts.
A parent who smokes will ignite the curiosity of the child and a few tries at smoking can turn them into drug abusers. A taste brought upon by curiosity can lead to a lifelong habit that is hard to curb. Mukti Kendra Rehabilitation Centre’s counselor Thapa, who has 22 years of experience, shares that some taste the drug for the first time and instantly experience pleasure. Later, they get hooked on to it. Yet, there are some who don’t go for a second taste after experiencing nausea during the first attempt.
Thapa goes on to say that though there is awareness regarding drug abuse; it is the carelessness of the guardians that results in children taking this route. “Children often feel lonely when their parents fulfill only their materialistic wants and misunderstand what they really want,” he says.
Depression, as a result of quarrels between parents, a divorce, or unfulfilled basic wants, also lead to children indulging in drugs, puts Thapa.
Director Puri adds that not being able to own the expensive products like a motorcycle, or a mobile phone as advertised on television can make them miserable and vulnerable to their friends’ misguided actions. According to him, the education system also has a big role to play. The pressure from parents and school to score high marks can make the children turn towards drugs to relax. Experts say that the open border between Nepal and India is an easy way to procure drugs from India and children often fall prey to them.
What to do when children star enjoying drugs?
As soon as parents come to know of their child’s drug habit, it’s extremely important to take them for treatment, suggests the expert. According to counselor Thapa, the treatment should be done looking at the stage of the user’s addiction. In recent times, numerous rehabilitation centers are being established in Nepal. Thapa says that since many of them are not up to the mark in terms of service and treatment, the right rehab centre should be chosen with care.
He adds that a drug abuser needs to be mentally and physically fit before taking him for further treatment. If the child is in the initial stage, then a psychiatrist can also heal him. But for serious addicts, it is of utmost importance that they be taken to a rehabilitation centre for treatment.
Drug abusers finds it extremely difficult to kick the habit, says Director Puri. He says that there is no guarantee that an abuser will make a complete recovery, and he advises parents to prevent their children from being trapped in the habit. He says, “In my 24 years of experience, I have probably seen only 75 people kick the habit completely.” He has treated hundreds of patients. It’s estimated that there are 70,000 drug abusers in the country.