Drug abuse on rise among juveniles

When Rohit had a psychotic breakdown six months back, his newly wed wife could hardly guess the reason.

However, the psychologist who had counseled him earlier knew at once it was a relapse of his condition.

Rohit (name changed), 32, is addicted to Corex, an otherwise harmless cough syrup. While his daily consumption of the cough syrup is at least 10 bottles, he is still struggling to return to normal life.

“This is a case of second relapse. Dependence on drugs of medicinal usage is not uncommon among children either. I am rehabilitating a 10-year-old boy who is addicted to Proxyvon, a painkiller.  He doesn’t even attend school and sleep off the entire day. He has taken till 15 pills on a single day,” said Dr Aruna Broota, a clinical psychologist.

Dependence on painkillers, cough syrups and medicines for diarrhoea are most common, she added.

According to Dr Uday K Sinha, clinical psychologist at Institute of Human Behvaiour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS), there has been a considerable increase in the number of people seeking professional counseling recently.

“This is because families are more proactive in reporting such cases. Also, schools and NGOs have a key role to play in the rehabilitation programme. Peer pressure among juveniles between the age group of 15-25 is the main reason why youngsters fall prey to drug abuse.

However, we get cases of children as young as 10-year-olds who are addicted to drugs.”
While medication is required for patients who need to undergo detoxification, clinical psychologists try to rehabilitate addicts mostly through counseling.

“The other techniques include family counseling, behaviour modification and cognitive therapies,” said Dr Sinha.

Children who run away from home at a young age also form a major chunk of minor drug addicts. “Almost 45 per cent of homeless children fall prey to drug abuse,” said a psychiatrist.
Young kids, especially those living in slums, are also increasingly experimenting with thinner.

 “The number of children addicted to hard liquor has also multiplied in the last few years. This also may be possible that more such cases are reported these days,” said Dr Kushal Jain, consultant psychiatrist at Vidyasagar Institute for Mental Health, Neuro and Allied Sciences (VIMHANS).

Educating juveniles on the ill-effects of drugs is the most effective precaution, say experts. Besides, it is necessary for family members to monitor child behaviour.

“A child staying alone for hours, erratic behaviour, loss in appetite are the most common symptoms. In case of addiction, families should ensure that the child does not feel stigmatised and immediately seek medical intervention,” said Dr Arti Anand, clinical psychologist at Sri Ganga Ram Hospital.

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