Dr. Tasaduk Hussain Itoo
Drug abuse is becoming a serious issue of social concern during current times and the percentage of indulgence is witnessing an upsurge since last many years. Young population in particular are indulged into various kinds of social evils — prominent being drug and substance abuse — a way towards ruining a purposeful life and career.
Drug abuse has been a factor in creating violations of multiple — from domestic violence, sexual violence, violence of the community to violence of personal ambitions including emergence of suicidal thoughts, besides posing multiple health risks.
One of the direct or indirect manifestations of drug abuse is the rising incidence of suicides among people in general and youth in particular — which is emerging as a grievous public health cum mental health concern.
Suicidal ideation has been shown to be linked to a higher risk of death by suicide, and openly disclosing suicidal thoughts or plans to friends and family or through social media platforms it is becoming a serious social challenge since last few years . Therefore, there is a serious need to track suicide risk in real time together with a better understanding of the ways in which people communicate or express their suicidality.
Recognizing the warning signs in people who have suicidal thoughts and ensuring to them help in the form of positive support networking is the moral responsibility of everyone of us.
While looking at the common warning signs of suicidal ideation, these include increase in indulgence of substance abuse, drugs, or other substances, feeling hopeless or purposeless, feeling angry, increased recklessness, feeling trapped, isolating oneself from others, feeling highly anxious, sudden changes in one’s mood, losing interest in things one used to enjoy, change in one’s sleeping habits and/or appetite, feelings of guilt or shame etc.
Understanding the issues deeply, two core risk factors seem to be responsible for rising incidence of suicides among youth — social evils like drug addiction and emerging health issues like mental health illnesses. Mental health issues are becoming a grave concern and maximum percentage of people do suffer one or other form of mental health problem during current times including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders and many other illnesses.
Mental health illnesses are a crucial provocative factors responsible for multiple social and behavioural problems including development of suicidal thoughts. And drug addiction is one of the major concerning social menaces that needs an effective redressal, besides other addictions.
Reluctance to drug abuse could be a reforming initial step to change its course for the benefit of society. Besides working on thoughts of people addicted to drug abuse, positive motivation, vocational guidance, educational-deaddiction counselling could be revolutionary steps to alleviate them from such abuse. Moreover, there is a need to adopt soft and caring approach towards drug addicts, understand their concerns, elucidate the reasons and accordingly take comprehensive steps for redressal.
Educating the people properly on risks of drug abuse and aggressive behaviours, providing screening tools to identify risk factors and/or mood disturbances, using evidence-based interventions — including collaborative, multi-disciplinary teams to manage depression and other mental health issues– shall serve the purpose.
Inclusive and accountable institutions of social justice, health and social reformation need to work hand in hand to provide integrated and highly intellectualized solutions for eliminating drug abuse from the society.
Every sector of the society has a crucial role to play in addressing the rising incidence of social evils — including Government, civil society, NGOs, religious scholars, teaching community among others.
Having said, there is a need to engage government, individuals, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, civil society in mass media campaigns to address the social evil of drug abuse. Educating the public, to mobilize political will and resources to address drug abuse problems are crucial need of the hour. Religious scholars need to get sensitive towards drug menace seriously –conduct sermons and highlight the social evils at religious places of worship.
Having said that, mass health awareness sessions should be conducted in the community regarding drug abuse in general and alcohol abuse in particular. Moreover, social stigma associated with mental health issues is unfortunately a big challenge and we need to put our efforts best in breaking this stigma so that people who suffer — shall reveal their illnesses and ensure help.