Vijayawada

Ganja and prescription drugs addiction on the rise

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Rampant cultivation of the banned weed in the Agency areas blamed

A year ago Karthik (name changed) was a bright student, studying computer science at a reputed engineering college and hails from an affluent family. Today, the second year engineering student is a wreck and a shadow of his past, recuperating at a de-addiction centre.

Speaking to The Hindu, he said that he picked smoking weed (ganja or cannabis) when he was in his ninth standard. “The occasional drag with a few friends turned to a joyful stage where I started to enjoy the smoke, and within a year I turned into an addict. I became so dependent both physically and mentally, that I started stealing from my home and my relatives houses to fund the addiction,” he said.

Addiction to ganja and prescription drugs such as Fortwin injections is on the rise in the city, especially among the youth, said Ms. Uma Raju of Green Valley, a de-addiction centre.

“Earlier, we would come across two to three cases a month, but now it has gone up to 10 to 12 cases. And most of them pertain to ganja and prescription drugs addiction,” she said.

According to her, addiction can ruin a person. “The moment one reaches the addiction stage, he or she becomes physically and mentally dependant on the substance. Out of 100 who try the substances under various circumstances, at least 12 become addicts, be it substance abuse or alcohol. One should clearly understand the difference between use, abuse and addiction and the distinction should be made at an early stage. June 26 is observed as International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, and it is time the authorities concerned took up a sustained campaign,” she said.

Acquiescing with Ms. Raju, Assistant Commissioner of Police (CTF) I. Chittibabu said that the use of ganja has grown phenomenally over the last couple of years.

Rampant cultivation and smuggling of the banned weed in the Agency areas of Visakhapatnam district has increased its usage, especially among the youth in the last few years.

Youth become peddlers

According to Mr. Chittibabu, earlier there were peddlers who would sell them to the youth. But now the youth themselves have become consumers, smugglers and peddlers, and this is a worrying factor, he said.

According to Mr. Chittibabu, the cost of 1kg of ganja in the city varies between ₹5,000 and ₹7,500. But if purchased at Araku or Paderu, it costs around ₹2,000.

“As per the present trend, the youth themselves drive down to Araku and Paderu and there are some hotspots such as Chaparai and Borra Caves and a few hotels where the smugglers lie in wait. The youth approach them directly and after coming back to the city, consume some quantity and sell the rest to fund their future requirement. In this year itself, we have caught about 12 such cases,” he said.

According to SVVN Babji Rao, Deputy Commissioner (Enforcement), Department of Excise the Prohibition, the smugglers also have a well-spread network in the city. “They (smugglers) basically target needy people, especially old men and women, and use them to peddle the weed in small sachets of 50 to 100 gm. The peddlers may pose as corn sellers near colleges or hawkers,” said Mr. Rao.

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Printable version | Dec 7, 2019 10:13:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/ganja-and-prescription-drugs-addiction-on-the-rise/article24256697.ece

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