BY ANCHAL PATHAK, SWATI DEOGIRE, TARANA ARORA
A dimly lit room with a red Chinese lamp glowing in the far end. A young girl aged 22 opens an innocent looking packet containing white powder. With the help of her friend she draws the powder into lines. As both take chances to snort the powder, the Trance music playing in the background becomes subdued. And as they rest their heads back and let the drug take its effect, their realities start slipping and they are transported into a world of their own.
This scene which looks straight out of a blockbuster movie is what more than five million Indian youngsters go through on almost a daily basis. Sadly this shattering statistic pertains to Heroin alone. The percentage consumption of other types of drugs is virtually unknown and on the rise.
“You feel dizzy, you feel like floating. There is a flowing sensation under your skin. It’s the easiest form of escapism,” says a 22 year old Preeti Singhania (name changed) who was a user of Cannabis drugs. The “feeling” as Singhania describes, that comes from smoking non chemical drugs that she and her friends used to indulge in while in college, was surreal. She started at 18 herself but claims she knows people who took to the bud when as young as 14 or 15.
“People who get into drugs usually don’t do it with the motive of getting addicted. They just want a onetime escape or an occasional drag as they see their friends enjoying while doing so,” says clinical psychologist, Glennis Mendosa. Working with people trying to kick the habit she says, “every time you consume an addictive substance your threshold increases by a level.
Why do people indulge in a habit that they know might damage their nervous system in particular and their life in general? There are various reasons, the strongest being unstable family environment. If a person has had a tumultuous past, then taking up this habit becomes an obvious consequence. Mendosa explains, “If a child witnesses friction between his parents at an impressionable age and the only time he/she has seen them calm is when they are drinking or smoking, the child automatically equates calmness and peace with these substances.”
Peer pressure is also one of the rising reasons for addiction. Young people want to be cool and accepted therefore, they, on the insistence of their friends take a few drags, little knowing that they are walking into an addiction.
Singhania adds to this list by saying that people use these substances for things as trivial as losing weight or getting over a break up.
People today have a very casual attitude towards substances. The media is to be blamed to a certain extent for not only glorifying but at the same time attaching the element of normalcy to narcotics. This can be observed in sitcoms and films such as How I met your mother, Dev D and Dum maro dum to name a few.
What is even more unnerving is the easy availability of these drugs in public places which families frequent. Places as common as a small kiosk under Shoppers’ Stop in Pune are known to be the selling point of these narcotics. One may shell out 100 bucks for a small packet of grass or up to Rs. 45,000 for a smaller packet of chemical drugs.
To help the cause of addiction, various organisations such as Muktangan in Pune have been set up. These organisations are working to help out addicts by providing them with therapy and medication. Just as every time you take a substance your level increases, similarly the method of curing is to decrease the level or dosage every time an addict takes to them. For example, if your regular dosage is five units a day, it is reduced to four a day. When withdrawal occurs the patient is provided with medication as well as psychotherapy to educate him/her about this addiction. Family members are also included in this session. Addicts are given safe medication like calcium tablets which acts as a Placebo which helps them cut down their addiction.
Mendosa says, “Acceptance is the only way a person can let go off his addiction. A person in denial cannot be helped by the best therapists in the world that’s why a therapist’s first task it to help change the mindset of the addict.”
With determination in her eyes, Singhania adds, “My fainting experience drove me to quit my addiction. I came to terms with the toll it was taking on my health, both physically and mentally.”
With the casual attitude that the society showers drugs with, one can only hope that there are more Preeti Singhania’s in the world that have woken up from the trance and seen the light.