At least 20 per cent of in-patient admissions at Muktangan — a rehabilitation centre in Pune to treat addiction issues — is of patients in the age group of 18 to 25, said director Mukta Puntambekar. “Every week, at least 25-30 persons suffering from various forms of addiction (alcohol/drugs/other substances) are admitted,” she said.
Among the most common forms of addiction is marijuana and cannabis, she added.
Against the backdrop of a raid at a party on a cruise ship off Mumbai coast, during which drugs were allegedly seized by NCB officials and several persons arrested, including Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan, experts such as Puntambekar and others said there are still so many common misunderstandings about addiction.
“It is 35 years since the inception of Muktangan rehabilitation centre and still there are so many common misunderstandings about addiction. For instance… that people who are into substance abuse can be left alone if they earn well and work well, alcohol, ganja are used in festivals, cannabis… can be consumed without harm or that addicts should not be treated unless they are violent or… create problems,” said Puntambekar.
“Because of the `feel good’ effect, extended and heavy use of marijuana can be addictive or cause dependence,” said Dr Shirish Ratnaparkhi, managing trustee of Manasvardhan Institute for De-Addiction, Rehabilitation and Mental Health.
“This trend for ‘feel good’ factor and then narrowing in on a drug of choice is increasing,” said Dr Ratnaparkhi, who is a psychiatrist. She added that at times, parents of young adults also can’t come to terms with the situation. “By then, the dependence on drugs or alcohol can be beyond control, with the patient showing symptoms like aggression, delusion and even developing psychotic symptoms,” added Dr Puntambekar.
“Muktangan rehabilitation centre helps addicts in the recovery process and helps them understand how to cope with the problem,” she said, adding that most of their staff comprises recovered addicts, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report 2021, released earlier this year, the effect of the pandemic has ramped up drug risks as young adults have underestimated the danger of cannabis.
Knowing facts about drugs can save lives and this year, on the occasion of International Day against Drug Abuse, the theme promoted the need to combat misinformation and sharing drug-related facts, as well as solutions to fight against the problem.
According to the 2021 World Drug Report, nearly 275 million (27.5 crore) people used drugs worldwide last year, while over 36 million (3.6 crore) people suffered from drug use disorders. The report further noted that in the last 24 years, cannabis potency had increased by as much as four times in parts of the world, even as the percentage of adolescents who perceived the drug as harmful fell by 40 per cent, despite evidence that cannabis use is associated with a variety of health and other harms, especially among regular long-term users.
As per a survey conducted in 2017-18 by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), in terms of absolute numbers, there were 16 crore persons who consumed alcohol, the most common psychoactive substance used by Indians. After alcohol, cannabis and opioids were the most commonly used substances with 2.8 per cent of the population (3.1 crore individuals) reporting use of a cannabis product.