‘Addiction can strike anyone, and doesn’t depend on intelligence, will power or character traits’

The concern about the increasing trend of usage of narcotic substances was in the air on Thursday, when the International Day Against Drug Abusewas observed in the city, with numerous programmes.

Easy availability

In various seminars across the city, psychiatrists and experts blamed influences of the mass media and easy availability of drugs for the trend consumption of drugs. On the other hand, the police – both the city police and the specialised Narcotics Drugs Cell (NDC) which comes under Crime Investigation Department (CID) – blamed staff shortages in their department for the low number of detection of drug-related cases.

While in 2013, only 19 cases were filed in the city under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1985 Act – that deals with drug possession, usage and distribution – in the first five months of the current year, just 9 cases have been filed.

Similarly, the NDC, which targets narcotics wholesalers in their jurisdiction, that stretches from Udupi to Hassan, said they had not had any major busts in Dakshina Kannada for over three years.

The NDC office in the city has just one head constable manning the papers, while the posts of Sub-Inspector and constable posts remain vacant.

Officials of both wings admit that drug usage is widespread, especially around colleges in the city, but the arrests and raids – mostly seizing marijuana and not “harder” drugs of heroin and cocaine – conducted so far were barely a dent on the market.

Doctors vulnerable

Though drug supply is a growing business, it must be remembered that without demand for the drugs, there will not be supply, said Raveesh Thunga, Head of Department of Psychiatry, KMC, in his exhortation for increased awareness on drug addiction during a seminar at KMC Hospital, Attavar.

Among the groups particularly vulnerable to drug addiction were teens — with their tendencies for high-risk behaviour, acting on impulses, rebelliousness and need to fit in peer groups — and doctors, said Psychiatrist P.V. Bhandary.

“Long stressful work hours, easy access to painkillers and drugs such as Morphine, a habit of self-diagnosis and self-medication — that is, unwillingness for a doctor to be the patient — are contributing factors for doctors taking up tobacco or other drugs,” he said, adding that a recent study showed that 43 per cent of doctors who admitted using opioids had kept it hidden from society for over two years.

However, he warned, that addiction can strike anyone, and doesn’t depend on intelligence, will power or character traits. With it being “extremely difficult” to come out of the addiction, Dr. Bhandary said “saying no” to drugs and even the “occasional” drink or smoke was the “best way” to prevent addiction.

NSS unit of Sarosh institute of Hotel Administration conducted a seminar on drug abuse, while, Roshni Nilaya School of Social Work held a seminar on students on the need to prevent usage of narcotics.

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