Way to tackle drug abuse in Nagaland is to stop inflow, says recovering drug abuser
Dimapur, June 26 (EMN): A recovering drug abuser, Meren K, on Sunday lamented that no one was talking about how to prevent the inflow of drugs in the state, and ‘even with 10,000 missionaries, there was no change on this issue’, while drawing attention to the failing system.
“Every year the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed but nothing much is being done to stop the inflow of drugs.
“Every year the day is observed but without any change; how many productive hours, money, and leaders are wasted to come up with the catchphrase ‘say no to drugs’, he questioned.
He was addressing a programme organised in commemoration of International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking at Hotel Acacia in Dimapur, which was jointly organised by the Dimapur District Users Network (DDUN) and District AIDS Prevention and Control Unit (DAPCU), supported by partner NGOs, development partners and well wishers.
Meren, who has been an addict for more than two decades, shared that when he started using drugs in 1987, it was not a problem to get drugs. During the two decades, he said he has seen hope vanishing in the eyes of his father and tears in his mother’s eyes.
He acknowledged that there was no mechanism to stop using drugs for him, which in a way led him to relapse.
“Even though there are rehab centres, churches, medical facilities – they are doing their own thing and not coordinating. What we are doing now is just waiting for the addicts to turn up at the rehab centres and the clinics”, he lamented.
Meren shared that the youngest one at a rehab, where he is now working as a counselor, is a 14-year-old boy, who started using marijuana when he was very young, while pointing out that society is forgetting that the world is changing.
“I was told by a close family member, why don’t I just die or get hit by a vehicle”, Meren recounted while cautioning that there was no guarantee if a family member or even one’s own child will land up at a rehab because of the failing system. He expressed belief that the state will one day be drug-free by checking the inflow of drugs and not just observing the day.
Recovering women stigmatised
Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Dimapur, Sachin Jaiswal, meanwhile, noted that with the increase in the number of drug users among women, it is also crucial to empower women. There are instances where a woman who has come out of drug abuse is stigmatised and discriminated against in the society, which is a major issue.
He also remarked that Nagaland is going through a social issue despite developments taking place, especially in the commercial hub, which is at the cost of “something”.
While expressing that the government alone cannot take up all the issues for a society to grow, he said Dimapur being a transit point, has many drug users. Moreover, the problem in the state which makes drug users different from the other states is that the users are spread across every corner, including those who are unemployed.
“If a parent controls a child without making a child understand the pros and cons, there are many distractions and it is imperative to understand that counselling begins at home”, he said.
The bureaucrat acknowledged that even the government has a lot to do, and pointed out that there was lack of coordination among the government agencies.
Need to relook the NLTP Act
Director of Bethesda Youth Welfare Centre (BYWC) Dimapur, WC Humtsoe, in his address, pointed out that the Baptist churches in the state were ‘proud’ to have convinced the government to enact the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) Act, while not acting upon it seriously.
“Just 500 metre from Nagaland gate there is open sale of alcohol in the neighbouring state and all categories of the society from the state rush there”, he observed. He said that there were lots of challenges to be looked at together as a society and also relook the NLTP Act ‘as it is not doing any good’.
He also asserted that the statistics on drug users in the state were no longer relevant because of the increase in number and called for continuous awareness on this issue.
Social activist and educationist, Dr. Andrew Ahoto, in his address, questioned if prayer centres in the state were dedicated to change the life of a person, and opined that ‘change in action was better than in word’.
Drugs, he said, involved ‘big money and everyone succumbs to money,’ while questioning who ran the drug syndicates in the state. Although the state has a Narcotics department, he questioned if they were awake as there is free flow of drugs.
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dimapur, Dr. I Moatemjen, recounting his years in service in the early 1990s when he was posted in rural areas, said that those days, although drugs were available, the variety was very limited but now things have changed with the availability of a wide variety of drugs.
While stating that a person does not become an addict by choice, those working as a counsellor and looking after the addicts have a bigger role along with the medical professionals, who need to detox an addict before he/she gets into a rehab, which he said was missing in the state.
‘Nothing much is being done to stop the inflow of drugs but only observation of the day,’ he said.