'Music crosses boundaries and connects souls'

Alarming Phenomenon

'Music crosses boundaries and connects souls'

Alcohol and drug addiction is a common challenge among adolescents with  far-reaching negative impacts on their physical, emotional and psychological development.
 
The prevalence of substance use amongst youth today is increasing at an alarming rate. A national survey states that the alcohol consumption in the age group of 12-18 years was 21.4 per cent, three per cent for cannabis, 0.7 per cent for opiates and 3.6 per cent for other illicit drugs. The study cites ‘easy availability and relief from tension’, as the most frequent reasons reported for the continuation of substance use.

Speaking to Metrolife, Dr Samir Parikh, director, Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Fortis Hospital, said, “There are various factors which increase the risk of adolescents taking to substance abuse and addiction, like a significant traumatic life event such as abuse, neglect or exposure to other psychosocial events.”

Parikh lists “early exposure to substances, mental health related disorders like depression or psychosis, favourable attitudes to drug use, peer pressure or believing it to be ‘cool’, low self-esteem, aggressive or disruptive tendencies,” as reasons why youngsters get into the ‘drug habit’.

The teen years are a critical period of development and adolescents are known to be experimental with many risk-taking behaviours, including the use and abuse of drugs and alcohol.

“The line between casual use and abuse is thin. And more often, addiction leads to gradual increase in use as it begins to fulfil the need of the user. This need could be anything from mood elevation to pain relief. Some teenagers may turn to substances simply out of curiosity or even as a way to deal with their feeling of loneliness, depression, stress or anxiety, or to cope with family-related problems,” added Parikh.

Drug addiction can be identified by a few physical signs, like fatigue, repeated health complaints, red glazed eyes and persistent cough. There are also many social changes, like sudden jitteriness or nervousness, increased secretiveness, continual wearing of long-sleeved clothes and sunglasses to hide the signs of injection marks or redness of eyes, withdrawal and social isolation, deterioration in physical appearance and grooming and borrowing of money.

Dr Jyoti Kapoor, senior consultant, psychiatry at Paras Hospital, says, “People who are addicted to substance have an altered state of consciousness. Drugs can also cause a permanent imbalance of chemicals in the brain. Like cannabis can cause a permanent psychotic disorder.”

“There are two kinds of people who take to drugs. One, who are under peer pressure, where teens like to try out stuff as they would feel accepted in a certain group. Others are those who have a high risk-taking behaviour, and are a bit adventurous. It is essential for parents and family members to be educated with adequate and complete information regarding the nature of substance use also,” added Kapoor.

If on one hand doctors are showing concern on the rising trend of drug abuse, there are people like Saurabh Verma, who find satisfaction and sense of exhilaration in
doing drugs.

“First of all, drugs are quite easily available and secondly, I love the ‘high’ that I get from it. It is even better than alcohol. I, along with my friends do it almost every day. But, yes we don’t overdo it.”

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