Everyone seems to have something or the other to say , whenever the topic revolves around substance abuse(Drug Abuse in this case). My experiences with people have been diverse . For a few it was was easier to chuck it below the carpet but for the families who were affected by it, it was nothing less than trauma . Drugs Abuse has ever been the same across countries and societies. Sikkim is no different.

One of the first reactions for any family is to reject or overlook. Many of the families have been broken and shattered whenever a child is lost due to overdose or suicides (under the influence of drugs). So are we as a society so blind that we do not even see or are we so ignorant as even do not know how to respond when someone we know gets affected by drugs. In most cases the reactions of the society has always been repulsive, regressive and reproachful. Similar is the reaction by law and police . They have always looked this a menace and have tried to control the spread by way of force and coercion using legal clauses . The health workers and doctors have taken this to be more of a mental health issue and have tried solving this issue through counselling and medicines. The WHO has mandated this as a health issue (specially Mental Health).

The presence of drugs in different forms has been a crude reality since the ages. Be it Marijuana (Ganja) to Psychedellic Drugs (of the new age) together with the misuse of medicines (made specifically to treat sick people). Since we have to live with this harsh reality, it is but imperative that we keep ourselves away from getting influenced by it. We have spent a large amount of money in treating people who have been affected by the use (rather abuse) of Drugs , but there has been very little that has been done in firewalling our system from the effect of drugs.

The United Nations has declared the theme as ‘Health for Justice and Justice for Health’ . These words say much more than what we can perceive. It has finally reiterated By the United Nations that there should by a consensual approach in dealing with this menace – ‘Effective responses to the world drug problem require inclusive and accountable institutions of criminal justice, health and social services to work hand in hand to provide integrated solutions, in line with the international drug control conventions, human rights obligations and the Sustainable Development Goals’ . All these years people have been working in silos and probably were doing some commendable work too but , whenever there is a need for a holistic approach it is important the School Systems , NGO’s, health workers , Law makers and law enforcers should work in tandem.
One of the first steps in achieving this is first to destigmatize drugs and drug users in our society. If Alcohol and alcoholics have never been shunned , then it should hold true even for drug abusers. Compassion and talking could help a lot. But going by the UN theme for the last two years , I suppose we all have to ‘Listen First”.

By Dr. Satyadeep S. Chhetri. The writer is a regular columnist and can be contacted at satyazworld@gmail.com )

NB: Views/Opinions expressed in the article or write up is purely of the author or writer. For any queries or contradictions the author can be contacted in his/her email id.

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