Nagaland’s Drug Crisis: Family Support Makes A Difference - Eastern Mirror
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Nagaland’s drug crisis: Family support makes a difference

By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Nov 20, 2023 9:42 pm
Nagaland’s drug crisis: Family support makes a difference
Representational photo by Towfiqu Barbhuiya on Unsplash

DIMAPUR — Like many young individuals, 21-year-old Kim found herself entangled with friends engaged in drug use in 2021, ultimately becoming a victim of substance abuse.

Known for her healthy and cheerful demeanour, Kim, as she referred to herself, spoke to Eastern Mirror to recount her personal struggle. As she shed light on her experiences as a female injecting drug user (FIDU), she emphasised the crucial role her family played in supporting her during this challenging period.

 While serving tea at the CAD Foundation in Westyard Colony, also known as the Railway Bazaar area, Kim willingly took a seat to openly discuss the ‘downward spiral’ that her life took.

It was in December 2021 that she first started to use drugs through her friends. Subsequently, she dropped out of school and this pattern continued until mid-2022.

“Despite losing an elder brother to drugs, my initiation into substance abuse was driven solely by a desire to experience the ecstasy I had heard about. Before comprehending the harm it could cause, my life took a downward spiral, leading me to become a female injecting drug user,” Kim admitted.

She revealed that her family members were initially unaware of her drug use, and she did not give them any reason to be suspicious of her activities. However, it did not take long for her to reach a point where the pain of being without drugs became unbearable. Faced with this challenge, she decided to confide in her parents.

“My family was shocked when I confessed to them, but at the same time, they did not overreact. Instead, they were forgiving and willing to help me come out of the situation that I had put myself in,” she acknowledged.

Desperate to free herself from the struggle she was going through, Kim, along with her family, went to a de-addiction and rehabilitation centre. However, upon witnessing that the centre had only male clients, she was referred to the CAD Foundation.

 “I was also not very comfortable to enroll myself at the centre that I visited first as I was the only female there”, she said.

In October 2022, she enrolled at the CAD Foundation, and for a year now, she has been on the path to recovery. “After registering at CAD Foundation, there were days when the urge to give up and return to drug use was strong. However, at the same time, I was determined to break free from the terrible life of drugs,” she shared, emphasising that the temptation was not stronger than her desire to recover.

 “I owe it to my family at home and family at the CAD foundation for supporting in my struggle against drugs,” Kim said.

Since she joined the centre, her family has taken turns dropping her off at Westyard Colony and picking her up after her sessions. She mentioned that she successfully completed her 10th examination through the open school this year.

However, not everyone is as fortunate as Kim to have a supportive family.

“Many of my friends I was taking drugs with want to seek help but because of their family, they are not able to come out clean. Although some of their families are aware of the situation they are in, they are unable to provide help because of the stigma and fear of society while some are terrified of the consequences they may face if they come out to their families,” Kim said.

The emergence of similar narratives involving seemingly ordinary young individuals succumbing to drug use is growing, often going unreported and unnoticed. Furthermore, the issue of drug abuse among young women remains unthinkable and overlooked. Kim shared her surprise, saying, “I was surprised when I got to know that there was a help centre for female drug users.”

Kim noted that people perceive drug users differently and tend to stereotype them. In instances of missing items from a home or any location, drug users are often the first suspects.

“People also consider it normal for men to take drugs but women are labelled differently and even the penalty and condemnation for women are different, even to the amount of excommunicating from the family, community, society and even one’s hometown which is why not many women seek help,” she lamented.  

Kim emphasised the need for exclusive rehabilitation centres for women or more drop-in centres. Such resources tailored to women’s unique struggles would help many women out there battling drug abuse and their families.

“Amid fear of stigma, lack of exclusive facilities for women deters women from seeking help,” she added, based on her personal experience.

She emphasised that families should not live in denial but instead be supportive to help individuals overcome their struggles with drug abuse. Without adequate support, the numbers of women facing these challenges will likely continue to rise, she added.

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

Related story: Nagaland’s drug crisis: A former addict finds her voice

By Henlly Phom Odyuo Updated: Nov 20, 2023 9:42:54 pm
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