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Drug deja vu: Abuse, detox, repeat

Young urban adults are treating the detox process as a post-party recuperating procedure which proves harmful in the long run, reports Jairaj Singh.
Hindustan Times | By Jairaj Singh, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 07, 2007 02:30 AM IST

Twenty-three-year-old Arjun has gone though drug rehabilitation in a private clinic eight times now. He is given to excessive drinking and frequent drug abuse. Coming from an affluent background, he studies at a top business school. Arjun’s weekends are all about wild parties, loud trance music and ‘cool’ friends. When this lifestyle starts affecting his health, he steps in to a drug rehabilitation centre for a detoxification programme. He ‘cleans up’ his system each time, not to quit, but to return to using drugs.

Detoxification is the first step for drug rehabilitation that takes four to five days; specialists say it is meant to rid the physical dependence of the drug. But young urban adults like Arjun, says Dr Jitendra Nagpal, senior consultant psychiatrist, VIMHANS, “are treating the detox process as a post-party recuperating procedure”. This “proves harmful in the long run,” he adds.

Arjun frequents them because he ‘thinks’ he can be physically independent of them, and it is all that he requires after a party, knowing that he can party more when he wants to.

“Young abusers think they know all about drugs. Many wish to detoxify only to revert to their habit,” reveals Neville Selhore, founder, Sahara Centre for Residential Care and Rehabilitation. “There are not many treatment options for party drugs, so they often end up visiting private clinics.”

Party drugs are mainly cannabis, ecstasy and acid (LSD), but a user soon moves to harder stuff like heroin and cocaine to get the “extra high,” says an official from Tulsi Rehab Centre.

Says Dr Chandra Shekhar, director of the de-addiction centre, Turning Point Foundation: “Most young people come with the notion that detoxification will help them resume normal life in a few days. The truth is, detoxification makes one feel physically fine, but it doesn’t help kick the mental habit.”

Last month, a city-based psychiatrist came across Manav, 25, whose lavish pocket money comes from his father’s successful transport business. He has been a drug addict for a year and has since visited six centres to detoxify. He’s been to a spa in Kerala too. “Manav felt medicines would help him resume a normal life and partying. It proved worse,” his psychiatrist says on the condition of anonymity.

Professor Aruna Broota, who heads Delhi University’s department of psychology, says: “Young people do not think ahead when they get into party drugs. Many think feeling physically fine will help them kick the habit. But, they grow psychologically dependant on drugs.”

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