The recent police raid on a rave party at Colaba where collegians were caught doing drugs is no isolated incident.
If figures from the National Addiction Research Center (NARC), Andheri (W) are to be believed, the number of people in the 19-23 age group undergoing drug rehabilitation has doubled in the past few months.
“Before April 2008, we would admit about 15 addicts every month. Since April, we are consistently admitting over 30,” said Shobhana Mannadiar, executive director, NARC. “And more than half of the cases are from the 19-23 age group, a trend we hadn’t seen earlier.”
Kripa Foundation, a drug rehabilitation centre in Bandra, has also seen instances of drug abuse among youth on the rise.
“We were approached by students caught in the recent raid on the rave party in Colaba, but they are yet to follow up with us,” said a counsellor from Kripa Foundation, requesting anonymity, as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Figures available with the Anti-Narcotics Cell (ANC) of the Mumbai police support these claims.
until June this year, the ANC arrested 1,558 people for consuming drugs. That’s 12 per cent — 197 people — more than those arrested during the same period last year. These numbers have seen a steep rise in the past four years — from 169 in 2005 to 2,767 in 2008.
“Drug abuse among youth, especially collegians, is on the rise,” said Police Inspector Mrityunjay Hiremath of the ANC’s Bandra unit.
“The main reason is easy money and peer pressure.”
According to NARC, youngsters are ready to do anything to get their fix.
“It starts with brown sugar or ganja. The addict starts stealing money to obtain it,” said Dr Shanti Nair, a counsellor at NARC.
“And when stealing ceases to be an option, s/he then resorts to prescription drugs like sedatives or cough syrups.”
Experts say that addicts often use prescription drugs as a stop-gap arrangement if they land up in countries where drug laws are stringently enforced.
Besides, awareness of rehabilitation and stricter policing by the ANC could be reasons could be reasons the number of cases is higher.
But Mannadiar said high stress levels among students and little reverence for tradition and legality were pushing the numbers higher.
“Substance abuse is becoming socially acceptable,” she said. “A boy we had taken in a year ago with an Ecstasy addiction said it helped him dance for hours and made him popular among the college crowd. His fellow students were aware of his addiction,” she said.
Mannadiar also said there was a possible correlation between cultural changes in recent times and rising drug abuse.
“During presentations in schools, students often ask me if drugs enhance sexual performance,” said Mannadiar. “They are probably experimenting with sex. And drugs would presumably follow,” she added.