KOCHI: Last month, Ananthu (name changed), a plus-two student hailing from Nettur in Kerala’s Kochi, jumped before a running train. His suicide note said he was addicted to drugs, and he took his life in order to escape from the evil. This is not an isolated incident.
The youth in Kerala are fast falling prey to narcotic and psychotropic substances, and many recent violent crimes point fingers to the malady.
“Mother of a second-year degree student had approached us urging to save her only son from drug abuse. So frightened, she said her son often turns violent and she is afraid he may kill her one day. Another MBBS student who was under treatment at a de-addiction centre is said to have returned to drugs. The chances of recovery in cases of drug addiction are very low,” said Prince Augustin, Director of Pratyasha Bhavan, a de-addiction centre in Thodupuzha.
Experts say curiosity, peer pressure and adventurism for the sake of fun are drawing youths in the age group of 15-21 to drugs. Taking a note of the menace, the Excise Department plans to set up a juvenile counselling centre in Kochi.
“The influence of drugs among teenagers is a cause for concern. We’re reaching out to the parents urging them to keep an eye on their wards and engage them in physical activities. Students staying in hostels are prone to substance abuse.
There are students who travel up to Puducherry to get nitrazepam tablets. Some others steal psychotropic drugs prescribed to elders in the family. We’ve urged teachers to create awareness about drug abuse among the students,” said Excise Deputy Commissioner N C Nelson. “The peddlers use high-end bikes and mobile phones for transportation and communication. Most youngsters take drugs due to curiosity and peer pressure. Later, they start stealing money from home to buy drugs. Subsequently, they turn peddlers.
There are students who regularly visit Salem and Cumbum to purchase ganja.Youngsters studying in metro cities like Bengaluru also turn carriers,” said Mattancherry Excise Inspector Sunil Raj, who once seized hashish worth `11 crore in Kumily.
“Anti-social behaviour among youngsters can’t be attributed to drug abuse alone. It’s the students with psychological problems who get involved in violent crimes under the influence of drugs. It should be seen as a social problem because often, the students are driven to drugs due to an identity crisis. Apart from family problems, the cultural breakdown confuses youngsters.
It’s for the teachers to mould the students’ characters. But as the society and parents blame the teachers for punishing students, they become reluctant to guide them,” said Kolencherry MOSC Medical College Drug Advisory Programme Senior Counsellor and Psychiatrist Francis Moothedan.