Mafia tentacles spread far and wide

Mafia tentacles spread far and wide

Substance abuse. That was a dirty word in public perception years ago as the national television went on an overdrive, educating students, parents and teachers about the ill effects of addiction. Fictionised serials, edutainment programmes on the topic dominated primetime. Strangely, that activism has today died down, even as drug abuse has spread its evil tentacles across the vastly changed City.

The danger of more students falling prey to this trend is disturbingly close. For instance, only a few days ago, a group of students from a prominent engineering college in the City were suspended from their hostel for possession and use of marijuana. Those who knew the students well told Deccan Herald that the group had been under the shadow of drugs for long before they were caught.

Another group of students was recently spotted by a private television channel and interviewed while buying a similar substance right outside the gates of a reputed private university. Not everyone might be identified so openly, as the drug distribution and peddling racket is often a clandestine affair, subtly removed from the public gaze. But the audacity of some to indulge in the trade openly is proof enough of the rampant spread of the malaise among the student community.

No professional counselling

It is apparent there are very few checks by the authorities concerned, measures that could prevent youngsters from being trapped by racketeers and getting access to the banned substances.

There is absolutely no professional counselling available to the vulnerable youngsters in academic institutions, points out noted psychologist and former Bangalore University Vice-Chancellor, Dr MS Thimmappa. “There should be at least one professional counsellor in each college. Under so many pressures of career, personal and professional, the city’s youth find no help. This should change,” says he.

The heady mix of lax law enforcement, virtual absence of rehabilitation measures, and availability of easy money is potent enough to prepare a fertile ground for drug dealers to catch their prey. “Quite a lot of the drug addicts are well-off, with high political and police connections. There is a general feeling that you can easily get away when caught,” observes Thimmappa.

No wonder, at some places in the city, like this Pre-University college, smoking of marijuana is an open secret. “There is a particular spot where all those who want to smoke marijuana go to. Even cops don’t do anything as they are easily paid off. The teachers and principals can do nothing but only warn us not to go there and indulge in the act,” notes Aaron James (name changed), a former student of the college who is also an occasional user.

So, how do these youngsters get access to the substance? Aaron says the dealers are very easy to come by. “The dealer would come in a scooter, take us for a ride, complete the transaction and then drop us off near our college,” he explains.

As dramatic as it may sound, discreet dealings such as these are a regular phenomenon between students and those who deal in drugs.

Now a student of a management institute in the City, Aaron has come across another set of drug users in the new college too.

He says he regularly finds a number of students deep into the drug habit, although they take much greater caution than in his PU college. “Smoking of marijuana is more common than you or anyone thinks and almost everyone I know does it,” he says.

Deepak K (name changed) is from the City, but studies in a college outside the State and occasionally takes the drug Ecstasy. He took to addictive substances ‘just for fun’ during his second year in college but soon found out that he was hooked to it. “A number of my seniors were in the habit of using various substances like inhaling whiteners and other adhesive substances and they were the ones who introduced me to it. In other cases, the dealer usually finds a student who will sell his substance for a commission,” says Deepak.

In Bangalore, says Deepak, getting access to substances such as LSD and Ecstasy depends on a network of friends, who can then connect to a drug dealer. “Things here are done very discreetly,” he notes. 

While many who consume drugs are not exactly addicts, the ones who do get hooked are seduced by the altered state of consciousness they offer.
The escape route from the troubling routine is too addictive for them. Circumstances, the company they keep and the pressures they are under eventually pull them into a vicious cycle.

Former Chairman of Karnataka State Temperance Board (KSTB), Sachidananda Hegde says there is a serious need for an in-depth and scientific survey in order to determine and tackle the use of drugs amongst college students in Bangalore. “There are a number of activities related to exchange of drugs and other substances in and around a number of prominent colleges and schools in the City and this seriously needs to be stopped,” he feels.

“Consumption of contraband substances can result in impaired reasoning, poor judgement and gradual personality deterioration. Behaviour typically becomes coarse and inappropriate. The addicts assume increasingly less responsibility, lose pride in personal appearance, neglect family and become touchy, irritable and unwilling to discuss their problems. They may be unable to hold a job and generally become unqualified to cope with new demands that arise.” Jayashree M, Expert, Integrated Clinical Hypnosis

“There is absolutely no professional counselling available to the vulnerable youngsters in academic institutions in Bangalore. There should be at least one professional counsellor in each college. Under so many pressures of career, personal and professional, the city’s youth find no help. This should change. While many who
consume drugs are not exactly addicts, the ones who do get hooked are seduced by the
altered state of consciousness they offer.”
Dr M S Thimmappa, Noted psychologist, former VC, Bangalore University
 

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