Is it the peer pressure, the pop culture or curiosity that drives children to use drugs? We are concerned about the rising trend of drug abuse but how serious is the issue? According to a UN estimate, 8.9 million people in Pakistan are addicted to drugs. UNODC calculates that more than 800,000 Pakistanis aged between 15 and 64 are hooked on Heroin.
Street drugs include alcohol, tobacco, cocaine, heroin and crack, marijuana(cannabis) and meth. Some of the prescription drugs are Valium, OxyContin, Percocet and Ritalin etc. Two of the most used drugs are cannabis and heroin.
What leads to drug abuse in children?
Major causes of drug abuse in children are curiosity and peer pressure. It is only natural that teenagers like to engage in risky behavior. They do it for excitement or to fit in with their peers. Others use them for self-medication to help relieve anxiety or depression. Teens that grow up with parents who are drug users often follow suit, often as a result of rebellious behavior. Many use drugs just to have fun or as a fashion statement without the knowledge that this could become an addiction.
What drugs do to you?
Common adverse effects of such addiction include physical itchiness, eyes redness, confusion, delayed reaction time, poor concentration and memory, fatigue and some other common symptoms including more severe ones like premature death. On the other hand, the psychological adverse effects include total dependence (addiction), change in attitude, carelessness, lack of interest in daily activities, drop in school grades, irritability, anti-social behavior, insomnia or increased sleep, argumentative behavior and demand for extra money.
Prevention is better than cure
The first step towards prevention of drug abuse in children is to spread awareness. Schools should organize awareness drives. Regional television channels should screen more educational and awareness programs. Government should establish more de-addiction and rehabilitation centers and reduce the cost of drug testing and crack down on drug suppliers. The government established Anti-Narcotics Force to combat drug smuggling and use, however a major role can be played by parents. They should spend more time with their kids and talk to them and be their good role models.
How to deal with an addict?
Rule # 1 Don’t panic, stay calm and try to control your anger.
Rule # 2 Consult a doctor.
If the child tells you by himself about the drugs he/she is using, a doctor can easily guide you about the treatment or rehabilitation plan. If the drug is not known a drug test can be conducted. There are rehabilitation centers in all the major cities of Pakistan: Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, Faisalabad, Peshawar and Gujranwala. And even though people avoid such institutions for fear of social alienation, they provide the best chance for drug recovery.