After a local court Saturday convicted two youths who are drug addicts for murdering a city-based businessman, psychiatrists in the city suggest parents handle their adolescents carefully if they realise they are becoming drug addicts.
Speaking to The Sunday Express, Dr BS Chavan, head of psychiatry, Government Medical College and Hospital, said, “Drugs and crime have an old relationship. I have seen youngsters getting into drugs and then gradually getting into crime in order to buy drugs. The parents of such children have to be very patient and loving towards their children.”
“There are numerous children in juvenile homes who are adolescents and committed crimes for drugs. They committed crimes like stealing money to buy drugs. Initially, it starts from home. The basic aim in such cases is to get money for buying drugs. Then another category of crime is crime under the influence of drugs. There are youngsters who commit sexual offences while under the influence of drugs. There is also another category of people who are basically anti-social,” he added.
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Elaborating on the drug related crimes, doctors at the de-addiction centre said, “Drug related crimes could be classified into three broad groups: Due to direct psychoactive effects of the drug – violence under intoxication; crimes to procure drugs – stealing to fund drug use; systemic crime – drug peddling. The first and the second one are the most common among children and adolescents.”
The drug addiction centre in Post Gradual Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) shared its data on drug addicts. Elaborating on the data, doctors said, “In our clinic, the percentage of children who are drug addicts below 15 years and between 16-25 years were 0.4 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. More importantly, the proportion is gradually increasing over the decades. The national level data (DAMS-Drug Abuse Monitoring Survey) showed that 0.5-0.8 per cent of adolescents less than 15 years of age were seeking treatment across various treatment centres (both government and NGOs). Another national level survey conducted by the NDDTC, AIIMS on pattern, profile and extent of use of substances in children and adolescents showed that around 70 per cent did not seek treatment.”
Sharing more details, PGI PRO Manju Wadwalkar said, “Children belong to all classes and strata. However, children living in the street, not going to school, living in a family with substance abuse problem and interpersonal conficlts among family members, or children who are exposed to physical or sexual abuse are more likely to develop susbtance abuse disorders. One unique substance that children, especially street children, abuse is inhalants (glue sniffing, nail polish remover). This trend has been observed in Delhi, Bengaluru and Chandigarh. Because of its easy availability and low cost, inhalants are popular among this group of children.”
On becoming addicted to drugs under peer pressure, she said, “Drug using peers are important factors behind initiation of substance abuse. Peer pressure, peer affiliation or role modeling could be implicated to support this association. It’s important for the parents to keep an optimal control and support/care, The most effective family environments are characterised by greater warmth, moderate discipline and limited stress.”
Meanwhile, Dr Chavan shared an experience about dealing with adolescents addicted to drugs.
“I was working Kiran Bedi. In the Tihar Jail, there were children who were drug addicts whose parents thought that once their children were behind bars, they would improve. However, the children came in touch with hardcore criminals instead. Thereafter I, along
with Kiran Bedi, started counseling them.”