On June 26 each year, the UN holds its annual International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. The UN has used the observance annually since 1987 to emphasise its will to increase action and collaboration towards its goal of a global society free of drug misuse. It also helps people understand how serious of an issue illegal drugs are in today’s world.
Some of the specifics of this year’s theme that are being endorsed in order to combat the drug problem are: treating drug users struggling to change their lives with empathy, providing evidence-based voluntary services to all, providing alternatives to punishment, prioritising prevention, and leading with compassion.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) also publishes the World Drug Report, which presents essential statistics and factual data gleaned from authoritative sources, a scientific methodology, and extensive study. On June 26, the report for 2023 will be made public.
Myanmar, which borders 1,643 kilometers of Northeast India, is part of the Golden Triangle (comprising Myanmar, Thailand and Laos) drug manufacturing region where 68 percent of the world’s illegal opium is produced and refined. It is believed that almost 65% of the entire opium poppy growing in the globe takes place in these mountainous regions.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration estimates that 60% of the world’s heroin supply comes from Myanmar. This amounts to 80% of the heroin produced in Southeast Asia. Many heroin laboratories are situated near the Indo-Burmese border, making Northeast India an important part of the heroin trafficking route.
Due to its closeness to the Golden Triangle area, the northeastern states of India have suffered greatly from the effects of the drug trade. A porous and poorly defended border creates a fertile environment for drug traffickers, exacerbating the issue.
The availability of heroin in India’s Northeast increased dramatically after 1984, and the area saw a significant increase in heroin use by 1990. Heroin was first brought to India’s Northeast in the mid-1970s. Evidence for this may be seen in the dramatic rise in the number of addicts throughout time.
The frequent seizures of heroin shipments by authorities in Guwahati and other places like Kolkata and Delhi point to a rising trend in the trafficking of heroin from Myanmar.
While the federal and state governments of India have a zero-tolerance policy towards drug traffickers and law enforcement and other stakeholders are working hard to reduce supply through the implementation of various policies, we as citizens and members of society also play a crucial role in preventing drug abuse.
Despite widespread agreement that drug abuse is a serious issue, only few people are willing to take a public stand against it. The problem of drug usage in India’s northeastern regions remains somewhat concealed. The widespread instillation of shame/stigma is much responsible for this. For instance, parents might opt to hide their drug-addicted children rather than seek assistance, all to avoid bearing the aib.
One’s environment has a significant impact on one’s development. As a collective, people needs to work together to find answers to problems that affect everyone.
Community centres may periodically organise educational events, activities for properly disposing of medications, and rehabilitation services. This helps get the word out about the drug problem and the risks associated with it.
Young people may be more susceptible to their effects, thus it’s crucial that they be made aware of the issue. Locating and assessing the most often abused drugs in a community may help doctors design more effective treatment regimens. The effectiveness of the programs will increase as a result of this.
Personalization based on age, gender, and cultural background may help programs reach their full potential. Providing individuals with access to effective addiction treatment, and establishing high-quality rehabilitation facilities, is much needed factor to consider.
Effective addiction treatment programs should be easily accessible to anybody who needs them. In many cases, families that are unaware of the warning signs of drug abuse ignore them. Addiction may be halted in its tracks if the families are trained to recognise these warning signs.
Addiction is not being addressed on a fundamental basis by government rules or preventative programs and here the role of the society comes in front. Helping the impacted individuals requires action on a local level.
The society should appreciate the influence they may have in helping individuals overcome addiction, even when there are numerous government agencies and rehabilitation institutes available.
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The community must take proactive efforts to address drug addiction to prevent it from reaching unmanageable proportions. Local institutions, including mandir, masjid, churches, community halls, schools and colleges and municipal centres, should host awareness programs that assist educate the public about the addiction crisis.
In many cases, drug users report feeling a renewed sense of hope and motivation after participating in a community-based rehabilitation program. Together, we can and must take a stance against drug abuse. Let us stand for this.
Rohan Joy Rana is a mental health worker based in Guwahati.
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