The Quagmire of Drugs Abuse

Navid Ullah

The use of drugs other than for medical purposes among youth is a challenging task for the world countries to eliminate, as its uses are increasing day by day. A report published by World Drug Agency in 2016, claimed that 250 million humans whose age is between 15-64 practice illicit drugs.

This menace is also widespread in Pakistan; the United Nations Office of Drug Control highlighted 6.7 million people involved in illicit drugs consumptions of which 78% are boys and 22% are girls. In addition to this, 1.6 million take opiates, 0.8 million take heroin, 4.03 million take cannabis/marijuana, and 1.69 million people practice painkillers.

The proportion of students in 6.7 million of drug population is controversial as some researchers claimed that this proportion is approximately 25% to 44% which include all types of drugs users like cigarette smokers, snuff takers, heroin users, alcohol and many more which is alarming figure. A further survey was conducted by the department of sociology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan in 2019.

The total number of respondents was 4997 from four major metropolitan cities as Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar under the Chief Investigator of Dr. Imran Sabir. The survey claimed that, the proportion of students’ involvement in drugs is no more than 3.7% percent in educational institutions but one thing is clear from the survey that drugs have been entered into educational institutions that has negative consequences on students’ academia.

A drug is a type of chemical that induces alteration in the human mind by leading to a state of intoxication; the person who uses drugs gradually loses control over it. It not only has negative effects on physical or psychological well-being but also has detrimental consequences on a country’s population and economic development. The most common known drugs include tobacco which is frequently used by girls and boys, alcohol, opium, cannabis, hallucinogens, stimulants, sedatives, amphetamines, and cocaine.

Similarly, the Constitution of Pakistan 1973, Article 37, section (g) obliges the country to “put a stop to prostitution, gambles and the use of harmful substances and ads.” Under Articles ninety and ninety-nine of the Constitution of Pakistan, the Commerce/trade Rules of 1973 set the mission and the responsibility of the Ministry of Narcotics Control to deal with drug-related issues.

The Regulation of Narcotic Drugs Act (1997), hereinafter referred to as CNSA 1997, establishes sentences and incarceration for opioid possession, assault, diversion, and trafficking. The Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) Act, 1997 complements the 1997 CNSA by calling for the creation of the Anti-Narcotics Force to conduct and monitor inquiries into narcotics and drug-related offenses. Despite a legal structure and force, the number of drug abusers increase by 40 thousand annually.

According to some researchers, the involvement of students in drugs comprised 25% to 40% of 6.7 million people which is alarming. It has negative consequences not only on their physical or psychological strength but also diminishes educational outcomes including poor performance, lack of interest in the assignment, less interest in study preparation, low-class attendance, low academic grades, poor interpersonal relation, lack of interest in co-curriculum activities, irregular attention, emotional imbalances, lack of interest in higher education, fewer creativities and high dropouts. Similarly, substance-abuse students are more prone to criminal tendencies resulting in physical, psychological, and social harm to the human race.

The excessive use of drugs is also considered a predominant cause of suicides among youth in educational institutions. Statistics reveal that every year the number of deaths caused due to drug abuse is even higher than terrorism. Approximately 685 deaths occur every day due to drugs abuse, whereas only 39 people die due to terrorism.

A crucial period for young students starts in their life when entering university when he/she get liberty from their parent’s supervision, but unfortunately, some of them become contaminated with drugs. A study in 2013 was conducted in Peshawar by incorporated 300 students who were studied in three different universities. The results showed that tobacco consumptions were high in both male and female students. Furthermore, the number of hostalized students was more than the day-scholars.

There are various reasons identified by researchers that prone students toward illicit drugs in educational institutions which include unhappiness or depression either due to professional or personal, company of friends who use illicit substances, curiosity, lack of job, lack of parental attention, feeling of boredom, hopelessness, nervousness, lack of information of its adverse effects, psychological chaos, and cheap and easy access to drugs.

The common symptoms identified by researchers are helpful for parents to evaluate their children whether they use illicit drugs or not, the common symptoms include extreme weight loss, feeling no hunger, some difficulty in breathing and becoming tired soon, liking outside of the home, frequent demanding of money, feeling happiness in loneliness, sleeping a long time, remaining lazy, face becoming pale, tremors in fingers, having stomach issues such as constipation, lack of interest in studies or feel irregularity, take less interest in everyday life activities, eyes remaining red, unclear speech, lack of attention, and dark circles under the eyes.
There is a need for bold steps to eliminate this menace from the students’ community because of their dire need to society.

Government should recommend and implement the best policies to stop the availability of drugs, the role of media to highlight the dark side of drug use and educate the youth regarding disadvantages of drug abuse, and universities need to arrange seminars on drugs to convince the students about the detrimental consequences of drugs abuse.

Written by Navid Ullah, M.Phil Scholar at the Department of Sociology, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad

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