Kohima, July 9 (MExN): The ARK Foundation in collaboration with IBAPWO, Pungro Town Students’ Union (PTSU) and Private School Teachers’ association Pungro (PSTAP) with support from the Department of Social Welfare, Nagaland conducted a webinar on ‘sensitization workshop on substance abuse and prevention’ on July 9.
Issues related to substance abuse
EAC, Pungro, Nahuta Tunyi observed that alcohol and drug abuse in the society is a pertinent issue that needs urgent attention. According to Tunyi recent studies have shown that 74% of people in Nagaland reported of being introduced to substance and people significantly from 15 years and above consume alcohol or other substance. Out of this, majority of the people from the age group of 15-30 years is vastly affected and teenagers are the most prone and worst affected population.
“Because of this social problem, there are many other problems like robberies, accidents, extortions, domestic violence and it is also a factor which can spread HIV through sharing of infected injecting equipments,” he stated.
Call for collaborative effort
The EAC Pungro also stated that overcoming this menace calls for a collaborative effort of the Government, public and the NGOs and other CSOs is crucial. Control the sale of these illegal substances, discouraging the users and buyers from indulging in substance abuse, is a measure to address this issue, he said.
According to him, the “Nagaland state substance abuse prevention and treatment policy 2016” if implemented and made operational will help to address substance abuse in our state. However, using and buying of these contrabands are still banned and deem illegal as per the existing Government policies.
Problem of society at large
He added that Pungro also experiences the presence of a sizable number of users, where drugs and alcohol comes from across the Indo-Myanmar border, to which the Government and the village Councils are working to address this problem.
“Causes of substance abuse are plenty with some reasons like poverty, employment, and frustration. So clearly, substance abuse is not a problem of the individual himself but is a problem of the society at large.”
Therefore, he shared that to bring a solution to this, a concerted effort is necessary. The society also needs to show care and empathy to the people who are already into substance use. The need to have a professional counsellor and psychiatrist and rehabilitation centre in Pungro also is felt, to help drug user’s recover from their addiction.
‘Gateway drugs’ a major concern
Making a presentation on ‘substance abuse and prevention’, Ketho Angami, President, ARK (Access to Rights and Knowledge) Foundation, Kohima shared about the major concern where youngsters are initiating some substances which are termed as “gateway drugs” such as sniffing of dendrites, use of Tobacco and nicotine products, and other inhalant substance.
“Such introduction to these gateway drugs results into forming a chronic dependency habit into harder drugs. One of the drugs in concern to which people are getting introduced is a drug called Yabaa (WY- World is yours), and its consumption has been reported in Kohima, Dimapur, Mon and Tuensang. While some cases of few college going students were also reported, this is of great concern, since Yabaa as a stimulant group of drugs is another form of drugs which is very lethal even in itself,” shared.
Worry on rampant use of pharmaceutical drugs
Ketho also stated that another concern is also the rampant use of pharmaceutical drugs in the form of cough syrup. Drug are used in various forms like drinking, swallowing, injecting, chasing, snorting and once a person reaches the dependency stage, numerous problems erupts in the mental, emotional, and physical aspect. “Therefore, to get relieve from such pain, the continuation of drug usage keeps happening which makes it difficult for a person to quit,” he remarked.
Prevention is the key
On the management and prevention perspective, he mentioned that primary prevention is the “key”. “People should be made aware of the harmful effects of drug use and not to ever get introduced into substance use, and treatment through rehabilitation for those who are already in the addictive stage.” He concluded the presentation by mentioning some signs that can be observed in a person who is starting or into repeated drug use, and some tips to prevent the youngsters to keeping away from being introduced to the first “Substance use” experience.