Child provided rehabilitation
A caller called CHILDLINE and informed about Raju, a fourteen-year-old destitute child living on the platform of Kharagpur railway station. Raju left home when he was just seven and does not remember any details of his family other than that he is from Bihar . Raju earns his living by begging and sweeping trains. When CHILDLINE met him he was in a very bad condition. Raju initially suffered from malnutrition, then while constantly inhaling dendrite he suffered from acute breathing problems and was detected with tuberculosis. He was then referred to a hospital. However the Superintendent refused to give the child free treatment. With the help of CHILDLINE and other authorities Raju was treated for free. Raju was later taken to a different hospital for more specialized treatment. Raju is now well and is again living and working on platform. CHILDLINE has linked him with a school for platform children where his case will also be followed up in the long term.
Written by ANURADHA MASCAREHNAS , Garima Mishra | Pune | Published: April 11, 2016 2:36 amPhoto for representational purpose
This girl was excellent in studies throughout her school years, had always been a topper and was good at tennis too. When she was 15 and in junior college, she fell in love with a 19-year-old from the same college who was into substance abuse. Soon she was addicted too. Though she was from a well-to-do family, when she started falling short of money to buy marijuana, she started stealing money to feed her addiction. Later, she was not only taking drugs but was also selling them to her college friends. Six months ago she was hospitalised at a rehabilitation centre.
Curiosity, kick and fun—some of the factors that pull youths into their ‘first-time’. By the time they discover the trap they have gotten into—which may take from a few months to several years—it’s too late. While college authorities may deny, drug abuse is gradually gripping city students. City-based rehabilitation centres and counsellors unanimously say that the youth have moved on from charas-ganja and are abusing all kinds of drugs. While there is hope at the end of the tunnel, the recovery is slow and there are possibilities of a relapse too in some cases.
‘Students are not only doing drugs but also peddling’
“In the last five years, the number of drug abuse cases in females and youngsters in the age group of 14-16 has increased substantially. College students not only take drugs but are also peddling drugs these days for easy money. The drugs are easily available at cheap rates in slum areas,” said Indrajit Deshmukh, counsellor at Practical Life Skills, a rehabilitation centre.
Every month, the centre gets 40 cases of drug abuse—the reasons ranging from social anxiety, fights with parents, stress, nuclear families and social constructs, Deshmukh said. “Earlier, the cases of drug abuse were in the age group of 35-40 but now, we have cases starting from 14 years itself. There has been a substantial rise—70 per cent in youth and 50 per cent in the cases of females,” he said, adding that whenever the centre has approached educational institutes to conduct awareness programmes, they have refused due to “the fear that such programmes will expose their students to drugs”. Same is the case with parents—when they learn that their child has become a prey to addiction, they blame his friends. “Both colleges and parents are in denial,” he said.
‘Ten out of every 100 admitted are under 21’
As many as 100 persons—a majority being youngsters—are admitted every month at one of Pune’s largest and oldest de-addiction centres. Mukta Puntambekar, project director of Muktangan De-addiction centre, said that statistics are grim and the writing was on the wall. “Yes, at least 10 per cent of the 100 admitted are youngsters under 21,” said Puntambekar, adding that while a fair share of drug addicts at the centre are from Pune, there are also cases from Mumbai and other parts of the country. Alcohol dependency is a huge problem but compounded with drugs, the issue has escalated, she said. Youngsters are not just doing the “usual ganja-charas drugs” but are on a high by using Meow Meow (mephedrone)—a synthetic stimulant drug.
It’s observed that most patients come from broken families where communication is a huge issue between parents and children. Films influence some youths to experiment at parties, and youngsters are on a high and often decide to take drugs for a kick, said Puntambekar.
At the one month-long course at Muktangan, addicts are treated both with medicines and psychological counselling. Art-based therapy is accepted among youths who show their creative skills here. “The counselling sessions are intense and while some get clean, there are children who still relapse despite the treatment,” she said.
‘Prolonged use of drugs leads to mental health issues’
Chaitanya Mental Health Centre which provides rehabilitation services for persons with mental disorders has reserved 60 beds for alcohol and drug addicts. “It’s no longer getting a high on corex (cough syrup) or the traditional marijuana. What we are finding is new methods taken up by these adolescents to get a high. It could be something like getting a high from even Fevicol-based products. For instance, a huge amount of Feviquick that has an acrid smell, is put in a plastic bag and the person just puts his/her head in it and inhales,” said Rony George, Director of Chaitanya Mental Health Centre. Addicts are experimenting with substances like mephedrone and we have had several cases also where prolonged use of marijuana causes mental health issues like hallucinations, delusions and paranoia in the abuser, he said. The rehabilitation process at Chaitanya can take a while with a minimum of three months. Half the battle is won if persons decide to give up the addiction, he said. “But if they are at the centre due to family pressure or fear of the police then it takes a really long time to get them clean. The recovery rate is slow at times,” said George.
‘If addiction starts between 14-18 years, prognosis is difficult’
At Jagriti Rehabilitation Centre, 50 per cent of the total patients are college students. While there are a few girls, most are boys. Dr Amar Shinde, counsellor and psychiatrist at the centre, said that one of the drugs that is caught up with users is methylamphetamine—a medicinal drug, the sale of which is strict and cannot be done over the counter. The addiction started in Mumbai and has reached other states as well, said Shinde. “What is being sold by the peddlers is the impure form of the drug. What makes it dangerous is if done once, the person immediately gets addicted to it; treatment of its addicts is difficult at de-addiction centres also. In at least 80 per cent cases, there is a relapse after treatment,” said Shinde.
Shinde added that if the addiction begins at the age of 14 to 18 years, prognosis becomes difficult. He recently received a case of a 16-year-old boy whose father was based in Dubai and mother was a principal in a school. The boy would be alone at home and abuse drugs. “Tackling such cases is difficult,” he said, attributing the rise of drug abuse among adolescents to societal changes, social media and easily available money. “Once treated at the centre, the person needs family support and shouldn’t be left alone,” he said.
‘Rehab centres are being treated like dumping grounds’
Some rehabilitation centres are cashing in on the rising cases of drug abuse and are using their centres as dumping grounds for addicts, said Prasad Oak, counsellor at Anandwan Rehabilitation Centre. While there are some centres that are genuinely working to tackle the problem, some are here only for making money. The result is that there’s a right approach for treatment of the problem. According to Oak, the decrease in age of drug addicts is disturbing. “However, the good thing is that awareness in society is increasing and people are coming early to rehab centres as compared to earlier days when it took years to accept the problem,” he said, adding that an addict requires a recovery period of 90 to 120 days in which his RBC cells regenerate, reducing chances of relapse.
For all the latest Pune News, download Indian Express App