In a telling example of the growing influence of the drug menace on youngsters in Punjab, a 14-year-old boy from Awan village in Gurdaspur district, who has been taking heroin for the past three years, has been admitted to the de-addiction centre at the civil hospital here.
Talking to Hindustan Times, this minor boy narrated how he was trapped into this deadly addiction. He revealed that when he was studying in Class-6 at the Government Middle School, Awan, two of his friends took him along with them to the outskirts of the village, where some youths offered him heroin.
“For the next few days, I went to the same spot every day with those friends, and they gave me a small dose of heroin and I felt very calm after inhaling it. One day, they asked me to deliver a packet to the nearby village for which, they offered me another dose of heroin”, he added.
“I started working for them as a courier for which, they gave me 2-3 doses of heroin every day. Sometimes, they gave me money as well. I was asked to go to nearby villages, where I was supposed to hand over their packets to the persons specified by them,” he said.
He was not the only teenager, who skipped his school and became an addict. There were between15 to 20 youngsters from his village, who were exploited by drug peddlers, he added.
Everything was going smoothly for three years before the police raided their village last month and nabbed many youths, who used to supply him heroin. He too was caught by the police but seeing his age, they left him.
Unable to get the drug again, he felt cravings and suffered pain in his body and later narrated the entire episode to his mother, who subsequently rushed him to hospital.
With tears in her eyes, the teenager’s mother said that at present, most of the youths of the village have been caught by the police while some of them are undergoing treatment at various hospitals. She urged the government to act strictly against the drug peddlers in order to save the youth from this deadly menace.
Dr Barinder Singh, incharge, de-addiction centre, said that the condition of the young patient was very critical when he was brought to the hospital on Saturday, but now they have shifted him to artificial drugs.
Regarding the number of addicts coming to the centre for de-addiction, he said that there has been a quantum jump in the number of patients in the past two months. The centre, which was opened in July 2013, received only 100 to 110 addicts till April this year. However, the figure rose to 445 in May while in June, as many as 1,424 addicts have already approached them for de-addiction.
He further said that nearly 60% of the addicts were youngsters, who were hooked to one or the other drug by their friends. Even many girls were approaching them for de-addiction, he added.