Drugs, Youth & the Staggering Indian Society

Didhiti Ghosh

Making up one-fifth of the population, 15-24 year-olds carry with them India’s legacy as they drive the fruit of its political, economic, social and business decisions sanctioned by the authoritative heads at the centre. Bearing the burden of a densely populated country like India is no small task, and drug abuse does nothing to lighten the load for India’s youth.

Why is the youth more susceptible to drug addiction?

The brain is intricately involved in any addiction, and for many teenagers, the addiction susceptibility disorder is present before they ever begin using substances. For others, repeated drug abuse creates significant changes in the brain, making them dependent on a rigid reinforcement system of abusing drugs every time that they have the crave to feel better. For most, it is the complex interaction between genetic and environmental factors with the abuse of addictive substances that paves the downward spiral of physical and emotional dependency.

The susceptibility of young people to developing addictions more rapidly has to do with the fact that the brain is immature and not fully developed until around age 25. Just recently, researchers have been able to determine which specific areas of an adolescent’s underdeveloped brain are implicated in their vulnerability to addiction.

What is the biology of drug addiction?

Scientists have recently pinpointed a specific protein in the brain called elF2 that accounts for adolescents’ hypersensitivity to addictive drugs. Research support involved two studies with mice, along with evidence of generalization from brain imaging in human addicts.

What is the social perspective of drug addiction?

As youngsters become more independent, parents’ influence often diminishes, and as part of life’s natural progression, teenagers are influenced more and more by their peers. As might be guessed, one of the most powerful tools used to sway young people towards drug addiction is peer pressure, and peer influences in the area of drug abuse can begin as early as middle school.

What are the effects of substance dependency?

Teens who abuse drugs are more likely to struggle with addiction later in life and have permanent and irreversible brain damage.

Some symptoms include a change in peer group, carelessness with grooming, decline in academic performance, missing classes or skipping school, loss of interest in favourite activities, trouble in school or with the law, changes in eating or sleeping habits, and deteriorating relationships with family members and friends.

How can we prevent and protect the youth from future drug abuse?

Creating healthy and attractive alternatives to drug abuse can curb the number of first-time users. The United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention has come out with a handbook to help communities prevent drug abuse. Some basic prevention ideas include:

  • Promotion of positive mental health
  • Focus on people and encouragement of social interaction
  • Local involvement of young people and respect for cultural values
  • Encouragement of positive alternatives
  • Achieving a long-term perspective
  • Community development.

With this knowledge in mind, we can lessen the dependency that our society has on drugs and establish positive mental health environments in order to make changes that will lead to healthier and safer lives for the youth of India.

About the Author: Didhiti Ghosh is a psychologist, journalist, script-writer, professor and a certified translator-interpreter of the Spanish language. She has been involved in organizing youth mental health & anti-drug abuse campaigns in and around Kolkata in collaboration with educational institutions in Bengal and The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore.

Contact: didhiti.24@gmail.com