Nagaland’s Drug Crisis: ‘Drugs Will Slowly Kill Us….We Can Only Wait For It’ - Eastern Mirror
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Nagaland’s drug crisis: ‘Drugs will slowly kill us….We can only wait for it’

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By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Nov 24, 2023 11:58 pm

DIMAPUR — Adah, currently in her early 40s, faces a challenging life marked by abuse and drug addiction, primarily influenced by her late husband’s struggles with substance abuse.

Speaking with Eastern Mirror from a gathering spot for drug users in Dimapur, she shared her journey from a life of poverty, early marriage and spousal abuse to engaging in substance abuse, illustrating the complexity of female drug users in crisis.

Adah’s ordeal began during her adolescence when she experienced abuse from her late husband, who was both a drug addict and unemployed. Gradually, under the influence of her late husband, she succumbed to drug use, a situation she describes as “not out of choice but out of force.” Currently in her early 40s, Adah has become involved in drug abuse.

“All I wanted was love but after I was married off, my life went through a chain of events which I did not envision. I grew up in poverty, was married off at a young age, suffered at the hands of my husband; and now living a life of self-torture,” she narrated.

She said her initiation into drug use began with glue sniffing and experimentation with alcohol and drugs that she did not even know the name of.

Adah pointed to a life of poverty and her late husband as the factors contributing to her current situation. She explained that her husband, who was both jobless and an addict, would occasionally earn money through manual labour, which was then used to obtain drugs.

“His situation escalated and reached a point where I was made to engage in sexual work in return for money. From then on, I became a commercial sex worker which eventually led to substance abuse,” she elaborated.

Reflecting on what led her to do ‘hard drugs,’ Adah said, “To achieve the level of high I desired, I took any drugs I was introduced to.”

Unexpectedly finding herself fully dependent on drugs, she confessed, “I did not want to live a life like my late husband, dependent on drugs. But when I was forced into sex work, I became entangled.” Adah opined that it was too late for her to break free from substance abuse.

Adah noted with a smile, “Fortunately, I have no children.”

She then shared that several friends who shared similar struggles have succumbed to overdoses, and some even fell victim to violence. “Addicts like us face a lack of respect, even in death,” she lamented. She continued, stating, “Some of my friends were killed, but since they were addicts, people did not bother to look into the cases.”

According to Adah, many women in similar situations are forced into sex work by their husbands or choose it as a means to procure drugs. Despite not revealing the ease of access to drugs, she described spending nights outdoors on the platform or below flyovers, sometimes without remembering where they ended up.

 “However, I have never been violent,” she claimed, although she admitted contemplating ending her life.

Adah shared that some people have offered help, but the thought of living without drugs scares her. “When we encounter unfamiliar faces, we try to escape. We have adapted to this life, and breaking free seems impossible,” she confessed wistfully. “Drugs will slowly kill us, as it did to our other friends. We can only wait for it,” she continued.

The story of Adah underscores the vulnerability of women in impoverished situations, where circumstances beyond their control push them into destructive patterns, according to views presented by outreach workers.

“The connection between drug use and female commercial sex work has often been ignored and little is discussed about the factors associated with the use of drugs among female sex workers,” an outreach worker told this newspaper.

The outreach worker disclosed that numerous female drug users are compelled to engage in sex work, not for sustenance, but specifically to obtain drugs. Additionally, these women often find themselves drawn into drug use, either due to frustration or in conjunction with their spouses or partners.

 “It is also not very easy to convince them to seek help as they do not want to come out of the life they are leading and are not willing to recover,” the outreach worker pointed out.

The worker suggested that influential figures such as church leaders, apex women’s tribal bodies, could play a more active role in reaching out, providing assistance, instead of involvement in ‘petty politics.’ The worker emphasised that the external world, beyond the confines of their homes, is in a more serious situation than one might realise.

 “There are many Nagas who are in grave situation drowning in drugs, living a life of homelessness. The numbers will escalate if the drug menace is not discussed seriously. Today it is someone’s family, tomorrow it can be one of yours”, the field worker underlined.

(This story is the third in a series of reports on substance abuse among women in Nagaland)

Also read: Nagaland’s drug crisis: Family support makes a difference

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By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Nov 24, 2023 11:58:09 pm
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