Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Drug abuse: Bias, policy, community imperatives plague fight

By EMN Updated: Jun 27, 2019 1:21 am
PB Acharya addresses the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2019 programme at the Capital Convention Centre, on June 26 in Kohima.

Dimapur, June 26 (EMN): Government agencies and nongovernmental organisations in Nagaland organised on June 26 various platforms for advocacy as part of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking for 2019.
The organising agencies sent in press releases on Wednesday informing about the programmes.
A programme themed on said Day was observed on June 26 at the Capital Convention Centre in Kohima.

The government publicity agency, the department of Information and Public Relations (IPR), issued updates about the event in its Wednesday bulletin.

The Day is observed annually to promote the fight against drug abuse and illicit trafficking and to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of a society free from drug abuse.

Abou Mere, the director of nongovernmental organisation Kripa Foundation, also spoke at the event. He said drug users live in denial and never seek treatment.

Way back in the ‘90s the Naga Mothers Association and the Kripa Foundation began working to break down the ‘denial’ behavior and reduced stigma and discrimination in Nagaland, he said.

Community organisations and agencies have contributed much and now the time has come for the Nagaland government to ‘stand up and do justice,’ Mere said.

‘Health is a state subject and therefore the state government must provide budgetary allocation for drug policy in order to save life,’ the IPR quoted him as having said.

‘Women raped in jails, told to abort’

The IPR quoted a member of the Nagaland Users Network, a Nukshinaro, as having said at the programme that she began using drugs when she was in class-11, and being addicted to them for four-five years before overcoming it.
It was not easy for her as a drug user because she was a woman; there was ‘double stigma and discrimination’ attached to it during her time, the IPR quoted her as having said.
Thankfully, through the intervention of her parents and friends, Nukshinaro, no surname given in the IPR report, was able to get out of it and could continue pursuing her career though it was late.
Nukshinaro pointed that women are denied justice, for instance in matters of treatment. If treatment is denied to women because they are drug users, then it is not Justice, she said.
‘The irony is that the kind of treatment women get is different from the treatment men get in terms of access to treatment or support. Therefore, she informed the service provider also to know that women sexual reproductive system are very different that of male.
‘She cited examples of discrimination against women in lock ups where they are raped and asked to abort the child,’ the IPR added. Further women who use drugs face various kinds of violence starting from home, she said.
Nukshinaro appealed to policy and decision makers to create more opportunities for intervention; address issues specific to women who use drugs; offer counselling on violence, sexual reproductive health issues, and issues of HIV, and Hepatitis C among others.
‘Men live normal lives even as a drug user although women are judged,’ Nukshinaro said. She has appealed to the people not to judge them by their past but to give them a chance to be better persons.

Kohima district jail
A similar programme was conducted on Wednesday in the premises of the Kohima district jail in the capital town.
Abou Mere of the Kripa Foundation spoke from the perspective of health activists. He said drug users are often ignorant and unaware of their rights.

Drug addicts are voiceless against any form of ill-treatment or use of force as a corrective measure towards them, he lamented.

Noting that jail inmates who are or have been substance users can ‘undertake the part of decriminalization process,’ he said.

However, jail inmate need to accept voluntary rehabilitation and get admitted to a government recognized rehabilitation facility, or mental health institute or juvenile homes, Mere advised.

Recalling the landmark release of the Nagaland State Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Policy in 2016, he said addiction was then accepted as a “disease.” Efforts against drug addiction should be tackled in a “health centric” manner instead of being treated as a “crime centric” issue.

Keduvi Zhotso of the Kohima District Legal Services Authority highlighted the legal aspects of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act of 1985 (NDPS Act).

The Act encompasses a wide spectrum of subjects and weighs on penalty and punishment for contravening the Act, he said. It is a special Act that prohibits producing/manufacturing/cultivating; possessing, selling, transporting, storing or consuming of any form of narcotic drug and psychotropic substance.

Offences can be subject to years of punishment and penalty. This can be as serious as life imprisonment or capital punishment, Zhotso said.

The Act also stands out because it does not provide for any “victim compensation,” the gathering was told. Zhotso said that the Indian government has 344 banned drugs in the country “due to misuse of the drug.”

In its scope, it also administrates law enforcement agencies to conduct checking or raids in private residences of suspected persons or order a flight on board to land, he said.

Ketho Angami of another nongovernmental organisation, the ARK Foundation, elaborated what drug abuse is, and its harmful effects. He recalled his years of drug addiction which he said affected his individual self, family and surrounding. Drug in itself is good but the abuse and use of it beyond its medical purpose make drugs detrimental, he reminded.

Angami urged the inmates to identify their addiction and step forward boldly for help. He further encouraged the inmates to seek help, get aware of rights and use the space in the jail for improving oneself.

Renbonthung Tungoe, also of ARK Foundation, spoke about the significance of the event. Drug problem has existed for a long time, he said.

Tackling it should be a joint initiative that individuals and community in general should contribute to make the society drug free.

They can do so by engaging mechanisms that regulate entry and supply of drugs and undertake takes of rehabilitation or reduce its use among drug users, he said.


Members of state agencies and nongovernmental groups at the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking workshop in Wokha.

Another workshop themed on International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was conducted in Wokha too. The organisers issued a press release to the media on Wednesday offering updates about the event.

The centre administrator for Sakhi-One Stop Centre, Renthunglo Kikon, highlighted the role and responsibility of the centre. She urged citizens to avail assistance from the solution centre. The Sakhi-One Stop Centre is a crisis-response mechanism for women.

‘Gone are the days of stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV+, IDUs, FSWs… It is a basic right for every human to be treated equally and with dignity in every society,’ Kikon was quoted as having said.

‘If anyone of us is deprived of such rights, it is time we break the silence and get aid from organizations both government and private sector and draw on the resources provided through different schemes and programs.’

Mercy Ngullie, counsellor at the OSC in Wokha, also spoke the programme. She emphasised on the importance of mental health and how often people tend to overlook the ‘psycho-socio’ aspect of an individual. She mentioned five basic mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, mood disorder, eating disorder, and impulse control and addiction disorders.

Ngullie urged people in need to seek help and assistance from professional institutions where there are psychiatrists, doctors, counsellors, and even social workers etc., she said.

Loyivani Patton, program manager, spoke about the background and history of why the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed every year and how the UN office on drugs and crime over the years had been actively involved in campaigns to mobilize support for drug control.

Patton spoke ‘listening first.’ She said it was an initiative to increase support for prevention of drug use. It is an effective instrument in the wellbeing of children and youth, their families and communities, she said. ‘Listening to children and youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe,’ she said.

Mon’s police superintendent Imnalensa speaks at the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking-themed programme, on June 26 in Mon town.

The IPR gave updates, in its Wednesday bulletin, about a similar event in Mon. The International Day against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking was conducted with the theme ‘health for justice, justice for health,’ on June 26 in Mon town.

Police superintendent of Mon, Imnalensa, delivered the keynote address. He said using drugs not only affects individuals’ health but becomes a hindrance for them to move forward.

The police officer appealed to the citizens of Mon to be against drug abuse and requested the community to be vigilant to stop drug abuse in the district.

He requested the gathering to continue promoting health and to educate the people on the ill effects of drug use.
Subdivision officer (civil) of Mon, Chumlamo Humtsoe also addressed the event, the IPR stated. He said drug abuse and addiction have become a major problem across the world.

Drug addiction is a diseases and a problem for any community, Humtsoe said. The community and stakeholders in the field have to big role to play against drug abuse, he said.

He spoke about educating youngsters to prevent them from using drugs; one way is to bring them up in a good environment, he said.

‘Everyone has great potential but if the health is not sound due to drug abuse, it will never materialise,’ Humtsoe said. He appealed to the people to start involving in the work against drug abuse.

A medical officer, Dr. Chenje K, said at the programme that using drugs not only causes ‘ill health’ but becomes a major problem for the society. In the recent years, he said, drug use has been increasing in Mon town.

The medical officer appealed to the people to consider it ‘everybody’s problem’ and to start working against drug abuse and illegal trafficking.

According to reports from the Opioid Substitution Therapy (OST) centre at the district hospital of Mon, there are 453 registered clients of which 441 are male and 12 female.

The Regional Rural Development Agency at Tuensang also organized a program on International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking on June 26 at Shamator in Tuensang. Ayimla, counsellor, was the resource person, the IPR stated in its Wednesday updates.

Ayimla, no surname given in the IPR report, spoke to the participants and community members on the significance of the Day, the updates stated.

By EMN Updated: Jun 27, 2019 1:21:32 am