Hyderabad: Hyderabad is currently grappling with an escalating prevalence of substance abuse in society with a disturbing surge in drug-related cases, especially among the youth.
In 2023, in Hyderabad, 30 cases involving ganja led to 84 arrests and the seizure of 19,035.15 kg of the banned substance, valued at approximately Rs 4.13 crores.
A total of 182 arrests were made in 59 cases related to the seizure of natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic drugs. Banned substances worth Rs 7.99 crores were seized in 2023, according to an NCRB report.
Children start with gateway drugs
“The factors contributing to drug abuse among the youth range from curiosity and peer pressure to the pursuit of pleasure and the innate desire to belong to a social group,” said VS Gideon, a seasoned de-addiction therapist and director of Living Sober Rehabilitation.
Gideon highlighted the role marijuana plays as a gateway drug, leading to a progression toward more potent substances in pursuit of heightened pleasure. “To elude suspicion, these illegal substances are sometimes ingeniously packaged as toffees and candies,” he warned.
The growing use of e-cigarettes and drugs among schoolchildren is a cause for heightened parental and school authority concerns.
Official figures reveal a stark rise with 2,498 cases of drug or cigarette use by minors in 2022, marking a significant increase from 900 cases in 2021. The trend continues to escalate with a 28 per cent rise in 2023.
Long-term consequences of drug addiction
“Continuous polysubstance usage can result in brain damage and develop psychosis. Withdrawal from drugs manifests in distressing symptoms like hallucinations, tremors, and palpitations,” emphasised psychological experts.
Speaking about the emotional disturbances caused by drug consumption among youngsters, Dr Chennoju Veerender, a counselling psychologist, said, “Replacing natural pleasures with chemical-induced ones can potentially drive individuals to engage in criminal activities to sustain their drug use.”
Narcotics cases and arrests
G Chakravarthy, the deputy commissioner of police and head of the Hyderabad Narcotics Enforcement Wing (H-NEW), provided insights into law enforcement’s response to the widespread of drugs among youth.
“Narcotics-related cases have been registered in all city police stations last year, with over 1,000 consumers and approximately 350 suppliers apprehended during the same period,” he revealed.
Authorities and law enforcement stressed the need for collaborative efforts to curb the drug menace. “Ongoing collaborations with educational institutions are in place to create awareness and counter this dangerous trend,” said Madhapur DCP G Vineeth.
Stress at home, school can lead to drug abuse
Highlighting stress-induced factors contributing to youngsters’ addiction to substances Dr Purnima Nagaraja, a holistic mental health practitioner, said, “Open communication between parents and youth is essential for immediate intervention through counselling.”
Social activists echo the vulnerability of Hyderabad and surrounding districts to drug trafficking. They emphasised the necessity for organised and sustained programs focused on primary prevention and drug demand reduction.
Asif Hussain Sohail, president of Telangana Parents’ Association for Child Rights and Safety, underscored the lack of organised programs for primary prevention.
“Parents and teachers play a crucial role in initiating conversations with children about drugs, checking their bags, and seeking police assistance, if necessary,” said Sohail.
In conclusion, the rising drug menace among youth in Hyderabad demands urgent attention and collective action. By understanding the root causes and adopting a comprehensive approach involving counselling, awareness programs, and collaboration between authorities, parents, and educational institutions, the city can strive to create a safer and healthier environment for its younger generation. The battle against drug abuse requires unwavering dedication and a united front to ensure the well-being of the future citizens of Hyderabad.
Here’s a table showing the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985) cases registered by TSNAB (Telangana State Anti-Narcotics Bureau) last year.