Dr. Reyaz Ahmad Ganaie

Of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

Of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking
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26 June marks the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Dr. Reyaz Ganaie briefly summarizes different reports related to the drug abuse. He writes about the responsible role to be played by the society in general and teachers and law enforcement agencies, in particular, to stop this menace from consuming youth.

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce the achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the United Nations (UN) has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool.

On 7th December 1987, the UN General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.

Each year the day is supported by individuals, communities, and various organizations all over the world. This global observance aims to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent to society.

This year the theme for the 2020 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is “Better Knowledge for Better Care” which emphasizes the need to improve the understanding of the world drug problem and how in turn, better knowledge will foster greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security.

United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) encourages individuals, non-profit organizations, the private sector and Member States to get involved in its social media campaign to mark this day and invites them to draw on the resources provided in the social media campaign package.

The World Drug Report 2020 provides a global overview of the supply and demand of opiates, cocaine, cannabis, amphetamine-type stimulants and new psychoactive substances as well as their impact on health. It highlights, through improved research and more precise data, that the adverse health consequences of drug use are more widespread than previously thought. Around 269 million people used drugs worldwide in 2018, which is 30 percent more than in 2009, while over 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders, according to the latest World Drug Report.

For two decades, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has been helping make the world safer from drugs, organized crime, corruption and terrorism. We are committed to achieving health, security and justice for all by tackling these threats and promoting peace and sustainable well-being as deterrents to them.

The responsible citizen of a society, particularly teachers have a big role in addressing the issue of drug abuse because mostly the victims of this drug abuse fall in the age group of 11-20 years. Besides teaching, therefore, it is the duty of teachers to impart moral education to students and help them to overcome the day to day problems they are facing so that such students should not be misguided by the miscreants to motivate them for any kind of drug abuse. Last year, a study conducted by Srinagar based Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (IMHANS) in a Drug De-addiction Centre in Srinagar, found that “over two-thirds of patients in the study had started substance abuse in the age group of 11-20 years”.

The common substances used by Drug Addicts in Kashmir are Cannabis, Brown Sugar, Heroine, Spasmo-Proxyvon (SP) tablets, Anxit, Alprax and other inhalants and it is official now that drug addiction has taken epidemic form in J&K. The Civil Societies in Kashmir valley are concerned over the rising cases of substance abuse, mostly the use of cannabis.

Warning signs to look for

There are clear signs to look for if you think a student is taking harmful substances but first make sure that these signs are not the result of other problems. Do not immediately jump to the conclusion that a student is abusing drugs. These warning signs are as:

Emotional Signs

1. Mood swings ranging from elation to sudden withdrawal and depression
2. Anger for no reason
3. Loss of interest in school or extra-curricular activities
4. Difficulty getting along with others
5. Playing truant
6. Falling grades and poor academic performance
7. Short attention span

Physical Signs

1. Redness in eyes
2. Tendency to fall asleep in class
3. Slurred speech
4. Inattention in class
5. Forgetfulness
6. Neglect of personal hygiene and general appearance
7. Trembling and uncoordinated movements.

If we recognise the above signs among any children in the age group of 11-20 years, our early intervention will definitely make a positive change in the lives of such victims so that they can live a peaceful life.

The greater responsibility lies with the police and other law enforcement agencies to stop the flow of banned substances in the region. We must realize, the problem can be addressed effectively only when the availability of drugs is choked and the Law enforcement agencies, particularly the police, have to sincerely work to put a check on the sale of drugs and act tough against drug peddlers. Medical experts should also be engaged if needed to counsel or treat such students so that their health is saved from getting ruined.

There are multiple reasons for the drug problem, which include lack of awareness, easy availability, peer pressure and living in a conflict zone because some people cope with the uncertainty, trauma and anxiety created by the day-to-day conflict by using drugs. Unfortunately due to the ongoing political instability and conflict, people are cultivating the poppy in abundance, and as a result of it, the menace is fast spreading its tentacles and mostly Kashmiri youth are falling prey to it. During the year 2016-2019, due to the fact that these years remained most turbulent and there were frequent Hartals (strike calls) for months together and in the garb of these strikes, people in valley particularly in south Kashmir took advantage of this law and order situation and cultivated more and more poppy and cannabis.

In the current crisis amid Covid-19 and months-long Lockdown, people are again involved in its cultivation and, with each passing year its cultivation is increasing which is being sold illegally in the state and is also smuggled to other states as well and the people involved in this process are making huge fortunes out of this illegal trade at the cost of our future generations.

From time to time, several religious organisations and NGOs have raised their voices against the drug mafia in Kashmir but all in vain. A few days back, Nighat Bashir, a National level Karate player from Seelu, Sopore in District Baramulla raised her voice against the drug mafia in Sopore when she came to know that her brother is getting involved in drugs. She raised her voice against the drug mafia which also led to the arrest of one person. After that, the racket was busted by police in Sopore. But she alleged that following the arrests, the army raided the area and assaulted her cousins and were looking for her father.

In a couple of videos that had gone viral on social media networking sites, the young athlete has accused some Indian Army personnel of harassing her and her family after when she spoke on the drug mafia in her hometown. But the army and police officials have refuted these allegations. However, the Lieutenant Governer-led administration must order an investigation into this matter at the earliest to unravel the truth.

Although it is the duty of every citizen to fight against the drug mafia in order to get rid of this menace which is taking a heavy toll on the lives of people particularly the youth. The Jammu and Kashmir Excise Department meant for this purpose together with the police department, has to gear up its men as well as machinery to destroy poppy and cannabis cultivation. Therefore, a coordinated effort by the excise department, police, civil society groups, and educational institutions will inevitably bear positive results in the form of saving our future generation from drug abuse.

The author can be reached at reyazganaie@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are exclusively personal and do not reflect the stand or policy of Oracle Opinions.

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