Stigmatisation and discrimination towards drug users often cause them to isolate themselves and become castaways from the society, thereby getting no option for recovery, said psychiatrist Dr RK Lenin on Saturday while urging the public to treat users from a medical perspective as persons who need medical treatment.
He was speaking as a resource person on the topic, ‘Empowering youths to say No to drugs’ during a one-day media awareness workshop on ‘Media Focus on Demand Reduction as a part of War on Drugs’ at Hotel Sangai Continental at Imphal. The workshop was organised by the Editor's Guild Manipur (EGM) in collaboration with the Social Welfare department.
He stressed the need to decriminalise the users community, while asserting that drug dependence is a type of illness which needs medical attention.
The treatment process must also include changing the mindsets and attitudes of family members, neighbours and the society by ways of encouraging them to successfully fight the illness, he added.
Lenin pointed out that early detection of drug users is considered as the golden hour for treatment; however, in most cases parents often try to hide the fact that their children have become dependent due to fear of social stigma.
Such are the main factors for the hindrances in the treatment process, and such trends need to be stopped immediately, he said. “Parents must accept and treat, accept and guide, accept and help,” he added.
He pointed out that children hailing from broken families are likely to become drug dependent and involved in unwanted circumstances. He also stressed the need to put more emphasis on youth empowerment.
As 25 per cent of the state’s population comprises youths, steps can be taken up to let the youths focus on sports, arts and culture and any other activities which give them pleasure and at the same time encourage them to stay away from drugs, he suggested.
He highlighted various circumstances which may lead a youth to get indulged in drug uses. The negative aspects of digitisation leading to weakening of the family bonds and high expectations to get white collar jobs or good grades leading to frustration are some of the circumstances, he added.
In this regard, he apprised the youths to remember that white collar job is not possible for everyone and grades are just numbers.
He also called on the school authorities to provide equal treatment to all the students and abstain from making the weak students feel left out.
He further highlighted the lack of psychiatrists and counselors in every district except in Imphal area. The doctor drew the attention of the state government to do the needful by keeping in mind that most of the users’ families face financial issues and it is a big problem for them to visit Imphal regularly.