Momentary thrills have far-reaching  impact: drug users share experience 

A packet of ‘Sunflower’ drug displayed as an exhibit by a law enforcement agency. (Morung File Photo)

A packet of ‘Sunflower’ drug displayed as an exhibit by a law enforcement agency. (Morung File Photo)

Rising drug use in Kiphire District-II

P Achumse Yingbithongrü
Kiphire | December 12

The initiation into illicit drug use varied among users in Kiphire. For many, it starts with the thirst to ‘experience the thrill,’ while others simply follow their peers or family members.

In some cases, users became dependent after taking opioids over a long period due to genuine medical issues.  

In the Part-II of the two part series analysing rising drug use in Kiphire district, The Morung Express talked with some current users, some who are receiving treatment as well as some who have recovered. They also shared the personal, health and economic impacts of their addictions.

For Rocky,* it all started with an attempt to experience the thrill of drug use with friends. What started out as ‘fun,’ however became an addiction. “I found it extremely difficult to stop,” he said. 

He further narrated that once when he was high on Alprazolam drug, a tranquilizer sold under the brand name Xanax, among others, he took a jacket that was dried outside someone’s house. 

He wore it the whole day and when the effects of the drugs dissipated in the evening, he regained his senses and placed the jacket at the same place he took it from.

However, the police took a look at the issue differently and lodged him in jail.  

Athrong* who is a person with disability, while narrating how he got into drug use, said that he had fallen and broken his spinal cord when he was younger. As a way to numb his pain, he started taking SP which his parents also thought would help him cope with the severe pain. His parents did not know of its repercussions as they were illiterate. 

Don* another recovering drug addict said he had overdosed 7 times. This, he said, made him look at life differently and seek help through the OST Centre. He however admitted that there is always temptation to relapse while going ‘cold turkey.’  

According to Rob,* a gifted handcraft basket maker, his initiation began after he saw his brother taking drugs. Curious to experience how it felt, he stared stealing his brother’s drug to try it himself. Today, he said out of 8 siblings in his family, 3 are addicts and one has died due to drug related issues. 

Aron* now a recovering addict who works in the local church said he followed his friends and became an addict. “But one cannot simple blame friends as the decision to consume drug lies in oneself as no one will force you to take drug,” he added.

For 21-year-old Jonny,* the youngest among 5 siblings, he began using ‘Sunflower’ through his cousin brother who is a drug peddler as they would often travel together to procure the drug to sell in the black market. 

He added that he was encouraged by his friends to try Sunflower which became an addiction for him after trying it a few times. He added that Sunflower is so addictive that ‘once you get hooked, it becomes extremely difficult to get out of it.’
Effect on Family

Most drug users admitted that their addiction has caused tremendous mental agony and problems to their family and children. When they are out of cash to buy drugs, they pressure their parents and families into giving them cash to quell their thirst, and often resort to violence in order to have it their way.

Further, most users stated that they resort to stealing, selling valuable items from like bikes, laptops, desktops and phones when they are out of cash, leading to constant fight and mental agony at home.

As most drug users are illiterate and unemployed, they are unable to provide for their families and kids economically. This has often led to breaking up of families and violence at home.

Impact on Children
Rex,* a registered client at OST Center Kiphire claimed that there are families where both spouses take drugs together without any care and concern in-front of their kids. Expressing concern at this, he said one should not be callous by taking drugs in the presence of children, as most often kids tend to follow in the footsteps of their parents. 

He narrated an incident where he saw a child imitating exactly how his father would inhale Sunflower and opined that it would ultimately have an impact on the child in the future. 

Academically, most children of drug users perform poorly in school as they are not supervised properly at home, resulting in children dropping out of school in some cases. Additionally, the shame and guilt that the children face because of their parents’ addiction prevent them from having normal childhood and leads them into depression.   

Economic & Health cost
Ron* alleged that nowadays some drug peddlers in Kiphire are selling ‘Sunflower’ mixed with ‘goodknight’ ash (a brand of mosquito repellant) which is causing a lot of health complications among users. Other tablet drugs which are all brought from Dimapur, Assam and Manipur are abundantly available on the street, he said. 

Asked about the price of a ‘Sunflower,’ he said that a quarter of it costs around Rs 1500- Rs 2000. But for heavy users, a quarter is not sufficient to provide a ‘kick’ that lasts for even a few hours so the alternative is inject the drug instead of inhaling, in order ‘stay high’ for a day or two.

Road to recovery
Meanwhile, registered clients at OST Center Kiphire all claimed that their lives have change for good with the intervention and medical help they are receiving. Recalling their experiences, they said they are able to control their urge and temptation to relapse because they are been given dose of government prescribed medicine i.e. Buprenorphine tablet from OST center under strict supervision. 

They also added that they are all working to have a better working relationship with their family and children. As one drug user put it ‘no medicine will help, if one doesn’t have will power to say no to drugs, shifting blame on friends for ones addiction will not solve ones addiction problem.’

*Names have been changed to protect identity

This is the last of a two-part series.  

Click here to read Part 1