Lakshmi Narayanan, a computer hardware engineer, switched five jobs in a span of two years. Suffering from mood disorder triggered by alcohol addiction, he could not continue with a company for more than five months.
His “irresponsible activities” led to his loved ones abandoning him. This added to his problem, making the 34-year-old finding it difficult to deal with mental and physical complications.
It was only after he underwent a month-long treatment at a de-addiction centre in the city that he successfully got rid of the craving for alcohol. This gave him a new lease of life. Now, Narayanan is eager to lead a blissful life after his family members reunited with him.
He is one of the several victims of drug abuse and addiction in Madurai.
According to health experts, the city has witnessed an increase in the number of people taking to drugs and alcohol over the last five years. Such addicts have been classified into three categories.
Those in the age group of 14 to 20 years, who consume narcotic substances like ganja and inhale whiteners, thinners, nail polish and petrol; those aged between 20 and 35 years who are addicted to alcohol and nicotine, and persons above 35 years of age, who predominantly consume alcohol of any kind. City doctors say that one among five persons suffering from addiction is an adolescent.
Speaking about the changing trend, A.S. Gnaneswaran of Wisdom Hospital says, “Earlier, people were addicted to either alcohol or tobacco products like cigarettes. But today people look out for pleasure in inhalant substances and prescription drugs like cough syrup and sleeping pills.”
“In the past, most of the people were addicted to tobacco or alcohol or drugs. But now we find many getting addicted to all the three — tobacco, alcohol and drugs.”
Symptoms among drug and alcohol users include red-glazed eyes, sudden mood changes, irresponsible behaviour, low self-esteem, poor judgement, depression, withdrawal from mainstream society, avoidance of family, low interest, negative attitude, drop in results, absenteeism, etc.
A majority of drug addicts are initiated into the habit due to peer group pressure and curiosity, while other reasons are stress and insecurity, says K.S.P. Janardhan Babu, Director (Programmes) of M.S. Chellamuthu Trust and Research Foundation, which runs Trishul, a rehabilitation centre for addicts.
“What begins as a habit later turns into addiction, leading to several problems affecting the victims and their family members,” he adds.
The rehabilitation programme in Trishul is offered free of cost.
Stressing the importance of counselling, Mr.Babu says that apart from medical treatment, counselling plays a vital role in the de-addiction process, which helps them reunite with their families.
According to him, awareness programmes should be conducted in educational institutions and other places to educate the public on the ill-effects of drugs and alcohol, and on the presence of de-addiction centres in the city.