Today, the problem of drug abuse among the youth has assumed a greater significance and heightened concern in various socio-cultural and economic strata. Though no accurate figures are available to measure the actual extent of the problem, drug addicts reporting to counseling in the country points out that the problem has spread among various age groups, and much among youths aged 16 to 25 years.
The age group in which a youth is, signifies the transformation of an adolescent to a young person, which usually is accompanied with the trials and tribulations of a ‘child’ in becoming a ‘grown-up’. A bundle of exuberant but undirected energy, he derives pleasure in taking risks and experimenting with new things. He craves to taste the ‘forbidden fruits’ in his quest for attaining recognition and status amongst his peers. Such a behaviour often brings him in open or concealed conflict with his parents and ‘parent figures’ which leads to the much discussed ‘conflict of generations’ and ‘generation gap’. The situation has been further complicated due to the fast paced social transformation brought in the society by rapid industrialisation, urbanisation and rural-urban migration. It has eroded the traditional, informal, social control mechanisms and has even brought in changes in the structure of the family, from joint to nuclear, or at best an extended family.
The ‘media explosion’ has shrunken the world, especially for the youth, and they are now more aware of things around. This has also raised their level of aspiration and ambition. With materialism, consumerism and individualism gaining ascendancy, modern youth is drifting away from his traditional roots and finds it difficult to cope with ever increasing social pressures. Further, the increasing economic pressures compel more and more parents to take full time employment leaving a child, more so a youth, alone in the house or in the company of friends. With no adequate programmes available to keep them busy, they become easy prey to anti-social activities including drug-abuse.
There may be various reasons for a youth to take to drug abuse, from just curiosity and a tendency to experiment with. It may be an expression of his revolt against established authority, a way of gaining recognition in his group or he may just not be able to say ‘NO’, when offered.
Therefore awareness creation or preventive education programme for youth is an imperative. In build up immunity amongst them, would promote self-respect and determination, provide experiences which encourage self-respect and sense of dignity, enhances personal and social skill which are necessary for functioning in a rapidly transforming society and provide for professional skills.
What is more important is that the leisure time activities of both student and non-student youth are so organised that they provide for healthy recreation and constructive work habits. As is evident, a youth feels more at home within his age-group. Therefore, to reach them, it is but natural to take the help of more active groups among them.
In Bangladesh, a strong emphasis has been placed on awareness building against drug-abuse among youth as they are considered to be the most precious asset for human resource development. Financial and technical assistance is provided by the government and NGO’s to help them undertake activities such as socio cultural programmes. Experience has shown such programmes have a salutary impact, if backed by a good follow-up programme.
It has also been realised that youth power can be harnessed not only from preventing youths from the malady of addiction but also by improving the environment they live in. One such example is the “Rainy Day” concert organised by Prothom Alo to observe the International Day against Drug Abuse and Trafficking. Some 15000 youths saying ‘No to drugs’ vowed to launch a nationwide movement against drug.
I take my hats off to Anusheh who had the gut to narrate her once drug addicted life. Anusheh, you can be a good ambassador to help the drug addicts return to their original track. Such activities/programmes help to identify addicts in their own peer groups. Dare devils as the youth are, they prove to be an asset in reaching rather inaccessible areas of the community, such as, pockets of addiction.
Many a time, due to their connection with traffickers, pushers and pedlars, it becomes difficult to impress upon addicts to leave their habit. It is here that the youths, voluntary organisations have not only been able to create awareness but also have been able to muster support for combating trafficking, pushing and peddling drug.