Following the suicide of an 18-year-old girl, allegedly due to narcotics dependence, the city police and the district administration reached out to principals of colleges to identify, report, and reduce addiction among students.

At a workshop here on Friday, resource persons elaborated on the reasons, symptoms and consequences of drug use, and the methods of preventing and dealing with drug addicts.

Rameela Shekhar, Dean of the PG Department, Roshni Nilaya, said isolation, influence of the mass media, peer pressure, rebellious nature and existing addictions to alcohol and smoking were some of the reasons why youth took to drugs.

And consequently the signs included absenteeism, isolation, coming home late, and lower marks.

She urged parents to be more open and confrontational about their ward’s drug addiction. “Teachers should follow a no-drug rule in class…and if there was a problem, the teacher should not moralise, condemn or tease, and instead should lend a helping hand,” said Ms. Shekhar.

Counsellor Hilda Rayappan from the Prajna Counselling Centre said drugs were becoming a problem in the city because of their easy availability. “Addiction happens because of lack of supervision from parents.

They should monitor the activities of their children around and correct them if they take a wrong step,” she said.

However, the difficulty of identification of drug users was demonstrated in the experiences of Leela Upadhyay, Principal, Sharada Pri-University College, where the 18-year-old girl had studied.

“She got good marks and average attendance. We only got to know she was an addict after she was sent to a de-addiction centre in Bangalore,” she said.

City Police Commissioner Manish Karbikar said campaigns such as these almost always come up after a tragedy, and were forgotten sometime later.

“However, training principals and teachers with tools to tackle the drug menace on campus will ensure reduction in drug use,” he said.

Similarly, Deputy Commissioner N. Prakash said that the problem was vast, and needed a multi-pronged approach, with the police, administration, teachers and parents joining in.