By OUR STAFF REPORTER
RISHIKESH, 25 Jun: The International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, also known as ‘World Drug Day’, is celebrated annually on 26 June. The theme of World Drug Day 2020 is “Better Knowledge for Better Care”. In 1987, the United Nations General Assembly decided to observe 26 June as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse.
Drug and alcohol use is a major challenge in present day society. According to a recent national survey, about 14.6% of the population (between 10 and 75 year of age) uses alcohol. Cannabis and opioids are the other commonly used drugs in India. Use of these cannabis products was observed to be about 2% (approximately 2.2 crore persons) for bhang, and about 1.2% (approximately 1.3 crore persons) for ganja and charas. Nationally, the most commonly used opioid is heroin/smack (1.14%) followed by pharmaceutical opioids (0.96%) and Opium (0.52%).
The substance use scenario in the state of Uttarakhand is grim because of its rapid urbanisation and socio-economic changes. As many as 38% of males in Uttarakhand partake of alcohol, which is one of the highest percentages in the country. For other drugs, also, Uttarakhand ranks more than the national average. In fact, regarding tobacco, Uttarakhand is one of the few states in India where there has been an increased usage in the last 10 years.
To curb the growing menace of drug use, Prof (Dr) Ravi Kant, Director and CEO, AIIMS Rishikesh, has launched a helpline number, 7456897874, dedicated specifically to drug abuse problems. He advised affected individuals to make use of the number and, if needed, visit the hospital following norms of social distancing. Professor Ravikant said that all modern treatment, experienced doctors and medicines are currently available at AIIMS Rishikesh to treat drug and alcohol related problems. Most of the medications are provided free of cost to the patients suffering from addiction disorder and are enrolled in drug treatment center at AIIMS Rishikesh.
In this regard, Dr Ravi Gupta, Head of the Department of Psychiatry, said that drug abuse or addiction is currently considered to be a disorder of the brain neural circuits which is worsened by adverse family or social conditions. Dr Gupta added that it has now been scientifically proved by World Health Organisation (WHO) and other national and international bodies that drug abuse is a treatable condition and requires treatment with, both, medicines and counselling. Most are treated on out-patient basis and only a few require hospitalisation.
Addiction psychiatry expert of AIIMS Dr Aniruddha Basu said that drug and alcohol abuse is the big problem which has been worsened by the recent lockdown and cited a paper published by National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, which has shown increased rates of alcohol withdrawal after lockdown. Dr Basu said that since addiction causes significant social stigma hence the user is often not willing to come for treatment. But once brought for treatment, patients often are able to abstain. Hence, there was need to be aware of the common symptoms of substance use:
1- Excessive drowsiness in otherwise healthy individual.
2- Sudden slurring or uncoordinated walking.
3- Recent alteration of behaviour.
4- Redness of eyes without any known eye condition.
5- Strange smells from body and lack of personal hygiene.