IN GURDASPUR DISTRICT
Growing Drug Addiction is assuming alarming proportions in the State of Punjab Gurdaspur District is situated on the border of two States i.e. Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. It has 96 km boundary with Pakistan and serves as a gateway to two very important States of Jammu & Kashmir & Himachal. Proximity to the border also provides greater access to all kinds of narcotic substances that Pakistan has been surreptitiously exporting to India.
1. This geographic location of the District makes the area an important and only passage for all the Drugs like Opium, Smack, Heroin, etc, from every direction across the International as well as the inter-state borders. This situation further makes the District a soft target towards all kinds of addictions, affecting not only those who handle them for smuggling, but the easy and cheaper availability of the drugs, the addiction to such substances, lavishly prey upon the natives regardless of caste, creed, colour, sex, race, profession or education.
2. Major contributors to the drug- abuse are migrant labour, daily wage earners rickshaw-pullers, truckers/transporters, School and College going students, professionals and even some high-ranking Officials. It is a ticking time bomb. It may slowly lead to an unmentionable and mental despair. It is established that a large number of youth living in this border district and adjoining areas are fast becoming addicted to drugs. Efforts being made by the authorities to check this menace have failed to yield any results. The youth are taking all sorts of drugs that can be bought easily in and around the area. The intoxicants being used are country-made liquor, Smack, Opium, Poppy husk, Painkillers, Capsules and Cough syrups. No doubt, chemist shops are thriving in this region, even in small village. The youth get addicted to drugs due to easy availability. One of the youth on condition of anonymity said it was easy to get drugs here. Anybody could procure drugs if he puts in ‘a little effort’, he added. Drugs are mainly brought from areas along the border of this district. Though the police frequently arrest drug peddlers, but its trade goes on with full force, as the demand always remains high. No doubt drug abuse has become a major social problem.
3. The situation is becoming more grave day by day owing to the constant easy availability of intoxicating drugs even in Dhabas and wayside small Hotels / Restaurant close to Educational and Professional Institutions, where crude as well as the refined intoxicating drugs can be had in ample quantity and at any time of the day as a result of which more than 70% youth of the District have become drug Addicts. This is situation of the Professional Institutions where the students are taught to live beneficial life for the Nation, but what to talk about the villages and small towns of this area. Here the hawkers even those on bicycles, are making the intoxicating drugs available at the doorsteps. It is learnt that these fellows, along with drugs taken by others and they are keeping injectable material in readiness to be intravenously administrated at the demand of the purchaser – a ten rupees, twenty rupees or the thirty rupees, shot, etc, and that too, with the single needle. The IDU/HIV situation in the Border District is alarming as out of the total addicts booked to injectable drugs, between 14 to 15 per cent are suffering from HIV/AIDS.
4. Even young women especially studying in professional colleges have fallen prey to Drug addiction. They are mostly using intravenous Drugs leading to the risk of HIV injection. The drug issue has become a major public health problem especially in the border District Gurdaspur. The use of alcohol and other drugs has become part of Punjabi culture. No wedding or a happy occasion is complete until liquor is served. However, in the past two decades, the pattern of drug use in the state has undergone a change in favour of synthetic drugs. These facts are part of a study on the menace of drug abuse compiled by Guru Nanak Dev University and released by the Governor of Punjab, Gen S.F. Rodriguez (Retd), here today. The Problems of drugs abuse had reached alarming proportions in the State. Synthetic drugs are now more common. It has been found that one fifth of the respondents took prescription drugs, which included painkillers cough suppressants and sedative injections. These range from pills like Ibufrin, Proxyon, Diazepam, Combiflam, Calmpose, cough syrups like Corex, Rexcof and Phensadryl to a cocktail of Intravenous Injections like Norphine. As many as 68 per cent of respondents said that they were taking only prescription drugs. Another survey conducted by the department of Social Security of Women and Child found that 67 per cent of the rural households in Punjab have one drug addict.
5. As per new study got conducted by Guru Nanak Dev University. Amritsar. One-fifth of the respondents take synthetic drugs, which include brufen, proxyvon, diazepam, combiflam, compose and cough syrups and injections of morphine and norphine. As much as 68 percent of respondents are taking only synthetic drugs. Synthetic Drugs is more popular among the illiterate while alcohol and smack are more popular among graduates and high-class society. A crusade against drug abuse through an institutionalized mechanism fully supported by legal, social, administrative and medical remedies is the need of the hour.
6. It is the need of the hour that to avail the Jobs/employment Opportunities in order to curb the relapse rate trainings for various ways of earning their bread and respectability, must be provided to rehabilitate those who undergo drug de-addiction and want to lead a normal life. Un-employment is a major factor leading to frustration and drug abuse. There are persons for whom peddling is the only means of livelihood.
7. It is established that a large number of youth living in this border district and adjoining areas are fast becoming addicted to drugs and efforts being made by authorities to check this menace have failed to yield any result.
8. The youth are taking all sorts of drugs that can be bought easily in and around the area. The intoxicants being used are country-made liquor, Smack, Opium, Poppy husk, Painkillers, Capsules and Cough syrups. No doubt, chemist shops are thriving in this region, even in small village.
9. Schedule drugs can be bought without prescription throughout Punjab, but the problem seems more acute in the border districts where such drugs can be bought at road side dhabas and make-shift chemist shops in the villages. It used to be smack, poppy husk, opium and heroine like substances the main addictive drugs a couple of decades earlier. Many are hooked to these narcotics but today many get their ‘high’ from the prescription drugs. Less cost and less danger from the law make these drugs preferred by both the affluent as well as the not-so-effluent.
10. The sale of scheduled drugs without prescription is rampant and easy availability makes relapse very likely. Relapse rate is often very high as 40 per cent and the majority of cases pertain to those who take injection and pills like Proxyvon. An injection costing Rs. 10 is often sold for as much as Rs. 50. There are shacks in villages selling this stuff and some enterprising men also sell them at the doorstep for those who wish to get them sitting at home after getting demand through Mobile/Phone.
11. The rough survey got conducted by this Centre has found that over the past three years drug use have seen a steep rise although unemployment is a major factor among addicts there are enough examples of persons with more than 10 acres of land getting hooked on drugs. The survey has almost found that Corex cough syrup, Iodex ointment, Norphine, Subimol, Parvon, Lomotil, Spasmo-proxyvon and Nitrazepam are some of the most common prescription drugs used by the addicts. In villages, the chemist shops, which are meant to be the lifeline for the villagers, are a major source of illegal drugs.
12. Besides, from physical and mental damage that drugs do affect the individual as the high cost of a daily dose weighs heavily on family resources. Addicts may spend as much as Rs. 2000/- a day. Often they steal to get the money for their habit. Identifying a drug addict is not difficult and one can see them everywhere in the State, both in the villages and the towns. Particularly in the case of those who take drugs by injection, the telltale signs are readily apparent – ‘dead’ veins, multiple needle marks/infections, swollen feet and hands.
13. Many of the slum and village addicts are labourer who takes drugs to over come hunger, pain and fatigue. These are the farm labourers, truck-drivers and mazdoors who have to keep going for the sake of their daily wages. There are also addicts one would never suspect. For instance, girls studying in elite institutions are introduced to drugs by their boy friends. Many college and school drop-outs become part of the chain involved in selling smack. Drug pushing is a big source of employment in many places. Almost everywhere you can have your demand for your drug of choice fulfilled even at the village karyana store, Rehriwalas and roadside Dhabas.