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DRUG ABUSE BY YOUTH- IS THERE A NEED FOR A RIGOROUS LAW?

INTRODUCTION

It is possible that the same pharmaceuticals that are good for humanity will also be bad for mankind. It goes without saying that drugs are made to treat illnesses and improve the human condition; yet, people may abuse over-the-counter medications, which is attributed to as drug abuse. It has influenced the family, the economy, and the community, making it a social implication. Adolescence is a crucial time in a person’s life and is sometimes referred to the most transforming stage. Teenage drug and alcohol misuse has grown to be a serious public health concern in our country. Drug abuse and addiction are a concerning new trend in our culture that has transcended just physical manifestation to the point of becoming life-threatening and capable of washing out human existence if not properly controlled. In recent years, drug misuse has also appeared as a widespread social phenomenon that is now present in many societies. The National Commission for the Protection of Children’s Rights found that, after alcohol and tobacco, cannabis and inhalants are the most often abused substances among minors.[1]According to a different survey, 46% of teenagers who reside in slums started using marijuana, alcohol, and smokeless tobacco as young as age 12.[2] Researchers discovered that 12 years old was the average age at which people started using cigarettes.[3]

WHAT IS SUSBSTANCE ABUSE?

Substance abuse is the term used to elaborate drug use that is excessive and damaging to the user, society, or both. This word refers to both physical and the psychological dependence. When a drug is stopped suddenly, withdrawal symptoms start to emerge due to a change in physiological state referred to as physical dependency. In the non-existence of physical dependency, psychological dependence is defined as a state of the overwhelming requirement to continue using a substance. These characteristics show that alcohol is a substance that can create both mental and physical dependence. It is necessary to keep in mind that alcohol is frequently seen as a various category from other drugs of abuse due to the severity of alcohol-related issues in the United States.[4] When people discuss substance misuse, they universally assume they are referring to illicit drugs, because of their likelihood for addiction or acute detrimental health consequences, many drugs were first made illegal. A lot of patients who use these medications frequently will try to convince others that they are not having any issues because they are unaware that they are addicted.[5] Drug usage causes extensive human suffering, illegal drug manufacturing and trafficking, leading to violence and crime around the globe.

WHY IS DRUG USAGE ON THE RISE AMONG YOUNG INDIAN PEOPLE?

For many youngsters, choosing impulse comes before choosing penalties. Typically, it begins innocently enough. As they get older, kids enter the teenage and young adult years. As humans become older, the impact of their parents gradually diminishes, and as is the course of life, children increasingly come under the control of their peers. Numerous thorough research has demonstrated the concerning characteristics of peer pressure.[6] Peer pressure is one of the most constructive methods used to convince children to use drugs, and it can begin as early as a junior school, many addicts evolved their drug addiction after friends first introduced them to drugs, which is one of the main reason of teenage drug addiction in India; most of these youngsters—teenagers—get addicted after using narcotics for amusement or out of curiosity.[7]

CONSEQUENCES

Youths are generally referred to as a nation’s future, and they have the capability to contribute positively to our country. Although many of them make wrong decisions, some are under peer pressure to gain approval from their friends, others for religious excuses, some get depressed due to work, and others as they encounter life hurdles that they are unsure how to handle.

  1. Social Consequence

When the nation’s youngsters and teenagers indulge in drug or substance usage, they lose their ability to judgement and end up making decisions that could spoil their entire life. They are unaware of the considerations of their doings, which will have a consequential negative effect on society. Drug use among young people will considerably raise crime rates as they will wish to steal money to get more drugs and lack the judgement to make informed choices[8]. Their families might face issues adjusting to society and dealing with the drug user, they will experience immense mental trauma. Permitting children to squander their academic opportunities, could also cost them their education.

  1. Economic Consequence

There are also some economic repercussions because youngsters who indulge in such drug addiction are least able to contribute as human resources to the GDP, the development, or the growth of the nation it also causes the nation to suffer losses when they could have contributed to its growth in a positive way.[9] Additionally, the government must pay the costs of diverting their funds to build rehabilitation centres so they can sober up, which not only has an impact on the government but also places a financial burden on the family because they must pay for their admittance to the facilities.[10]

  1. Legal Consequence

Beyond the socioeconomic impacts, drug use has legal consequences as well. Once a person is using drugs every day, they either consume them in enormous amounts or turn to become drug dealers. They are often held accountable for the crime, which makes the rest of their lives unpleasant. But only if it is unintentional, intoxication is a defence.[11] These youngsters are unaware of how grave everything will be in their lives. If someone is caught for drug use or dealing, the Narcotics Drug and Psychotropic Substance Act (1985) and the Prevention of Illicit Trafficking in Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act (1985) become relevant.

ISSUES WITH TREATING CHILD SUBSTANCE ABUSE PROBLEM IN INDIA

Children from all societal groups are affected by the growing problem of substance usage. The issue adds another strain to the lives of young people who are already living in precarious circumstances. Addressing this issue presents a number of difficulties, particularly when it comes to India’s neglected and vulnerable children. They have a problem with a substance addiction that cannot be seen in isolation since it is linked to other health and social issues like aggression, unprotected and undesired sexual behaviour, stigmatisation, and discrimination. Many children share the burden of the family at a very young age because they are neglected by the family and their parents are unable to give protection and care. The children are made to perform extremely long shifts, endure extreme exhaustion, and continue to be vulnerable to infectious diseases

These kids are taken off the streets against their will by the police, who frequently imprison them and occasionally use force to drive them away. There have been instances of police torturing, killing, and beating street children. Adolescents and children who have experienced physical abuse are more likely to consume drugs. These marginalised children suffer from severe mental abuse as well as sexual exploitation in addition to physical maltreatment. Everyday struggles with food, safety and access to healthcare are part of their lives, and they also deal with pain, violence, and stress. To combat their loneliness and escape the harsh truths of life, they begin using drugs. Therefore, the substance addiction problem among impoverished children in India cannot be tackled only as a medical issue; rather, addressing the issue necessitates a thorough understanding of its social and economic underpinnings.

CONCLUSION

Adolescent drug usage is an indication of high-risk behaviour. This has an eminent impact on not only the upcoming or future generation but also the majority of the nation. Even the UN organisation has strong drug policies and prohibits drug abuse.[12] Youngsters of all countries must be aware of their responsibilities towards the country for it to flourish towards development, regardless of whether they are caught engaging in drug misuse or trafficking. Indian laws are in place to prevent drug usage to some extent, but in my opinion, there should be such deterrent steps to prevent the youth of our country from indulging in drug use. To establish a “fit world” for children and to restore their rights to protection from substance misuse, it is important to comprehend the problem of substance addiction and to prepare the necessary activities to intervene as early as possible. It will be difficult for many children in India to regain their capacities to realise their full human potential, which is crucial in achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Author(s) Name: Anubhuti Sharma (Vivekanand Institute of Professional Studies, New Delhi)

References:

[1]Press Information Bureau, ‘Substance Abuse & Drug Addiction among Children’ (PIB, 24 April 2015) <https://pib.gov.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx?relid=118659 > accessed 15 January 2023

[2] Mark G. Myers and John F. Kelly, ‘Cigarette Smoking Among Adolescents with Alcohol and other Drug Use Problems’ (2006) 29 (3) Journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1931414/> accessed 15 January 2023.

[3] Ibid

[4] John B. Griffin, “Substance Abuse” (H. Kenneth Walker, W. Dallas Hall & J. Willis Hurts), Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations (Butterworths 1990)

 <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK319/> accessed 15 January 2023

[5]‘Dealing with Addiction’ (Kids Health) <https://kidshealth.org/en/teens/addictions.html> accessed 15 January 2023

[6] Gina Tome, et al., ‘How Can Peer Group Influence the Behavior of Adolescents’ (2012) 4 (2) Glob J Health Sci. <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4777050/> accessed 15 January 2023

[7] Ibid

[8] Dealing with Addiction (n 5)

[9]‘Economic & Social Consequences of Drug Abuse and Illicit Traficking’ <https://www.unodc.org/pdf/technical_series_1998-01-01_1.pdf> accessed 16 January 2023

[10] Redonna K. Chandler, et al., ‘Treating Drug Abuse and Addiction in the Criminal Justice System’ (2009) 301 (2) JAMA <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2681083/> accessed 16 January 2023

[11]‘Intoxication Defense in Criminal Cases’ (Justia) <https://www.justia.com/criminal/defenses/intoxication/> accessed 16 January 2023

[12] ‘Policy on Drugs’ (United Nations) <https://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/commissions/CND/Mandate_Functions/policy-on-drugs.html> accessed 16  January 2023