Staff Reporter

VIJAYAWADA: His downfall started with one ampoule of fortwin pendazocine, a drug that, he says, gave him instant kick.

“It all began when I dropped out of school after failing in tenth class. Despite constant pleas by father, a retired railway gang man, I refused to go to school and fell into bad company. What began with cigarette smoking, an act that I thought was mere time pass, soon took over and before I could realise, I was into serious drugs. Ganja, charas and readily available allopathic drugs like fortwin pendazocine were my regular options,” narrated V. Nagaraju, a 28-year-old Injecting Drug User (IDU)

The awareness meeting organised for IDUs at the Press Club on Wednesday by city-based NGO LEADS (Legal Education and Action for the Development of Society) was aimed at educating the community on the banes of using infected needles and syringes.

“Most of them are addicted to cheap drugs readily available. Since plain speaking does not work for them, we invite them for such get-togethers at regular intervals and through games and other entertaining means, try to educate them on key issues,” said K. Nageswara Rao, counsellor for LEADS.

It took his father’s death in 2005 for Nagaraju to realise that he had set himself on the path to destruction. He wanted to change himself but did not know how.

The timely intervention of LEADS was like manna from heaven and he chose to follow the instructions given by the out reach workers (ORWs). “The frequency of the intake of drugs has drastically come down and I am sure I’ll gain control over myself in the days to come,” he expressed hope.

Nazeer is yet another 27-year-old youth who took to drugging at a very young age. Today, he understands the importance of leading a clean and decent life due to the intervention of LEADS. “Earlier, I would always be found at some dump yard, looking for some used ampoules or other means to buy drugs,” he said explaining that the desire to live again was re-kindled when he came in contact with the ORWs of the organisation.

Almost all of the 50-odd youngsters gathered at the session hailed from economically poorer sections. Their shabby clothes and dishevelled hair spoke volumes about their state of negligence. The ‘misguided’ youth are evidently in dire need of help. “We provide syringes and distribute condoms to them free of cost besides counselling them on health aspects. This is essential to protect this vulnerable group from falling easy prey to dreadful diseases like AIDS,” Y. Kali Prasad, the project manager said stressing the need for a de-addiction centre in the city.