Thiruvananthapuram: An Excise Department survey sheds light on the drug habits among teenagers in Kerala. Ganja is the most popular narcotic for teens and it is in friend circles many try it for the first time before they gradually get addicted.
The survey report says that 79% of the youth get drugs through friends and 5% of them get the drugs from members of the family. Also, 38.16% of them had given narcotic substances to friends.
Most of the teens (78%) who participated in the survey began the use of narcotics to satisfy their curiosity about the contraband. Also 72% of them used drugs due to the influence of friends, while 51.5% took drugs for pleasure.
The survey also showed 82% of them mentioned ganja as the narcotic used by them. Also 75.66% smoked while 64.66% used alcohol and 25.5% used intoxicating tablets. At present, 77.16% continue to smoke, 69.5% use alcohol and 63.5% of them use ganja.
Significantly, 97% of those who participated in the survey had used a drug at least once. About 78.1% of them began to use drugs by a gradual process that began with smoking. The first intoxicant used by 36.66% of them was alcohol while 16.33% used ganja.
They began the use of drugs between the ages of 10 and 15. Those who began the use of drugs between the ages of 15 and 19 formed 20%. The figure was 9% for those below the age of 10.
Worryingly, 46% of the teens use drugs more than once a day. It was also found 80% of them use narcotics along with friends and 20% of them use the substance alone. About 35.16% of them use drugs when they face mental pressure. Such is the addiction that 94.16% of the youth use drugs in the same manner as smoking.
It was also revealed 61.5% of the drug-users reported their mouths have gone dry. Also 52% of them experienced fatigue, 38.6% have sleep disorders, 37% of them have violent nature, 8.8% suffer from depression and 8.6% have weak memory.
The study was conducted among 600 youths consisting of those who were arrested in drug cases and those who came for treatment at the de-addiction centres of the Vimukthi Mission and counselling centres. All of them were below 19 years. Of them, 155 were accused in drug cases, while 376 had reached the district de-addiction centres of Vimukthi and the counselling centres in Kozhikode, Kochi, and Thiruvananthapuram. Sixty-nine persons belonged to both the groups.
The information was gathered from the arrested persons by Excise officials, while psychiatrists obtained the details from those who came for treatment. The report was prepared by totally protecting the privacy of the teenagers.
Other survey findings
• Of the 37.3% accused youth, 4.83% were involved in crimes related to drugs more than once.
• 16.66% of the teens said that they resorted to repeated use of drugs and smuggled the substances owing to their addiction to drugs. 11.16% said that financial problems forced them to do it.
• 39.83% who were involved in drug offences were remorseful about it.
• Among the accused, 41.5% had undergone counselling and 30.78% have undergone treatment.
• Among those who had successful de-addiction therapy, 32% expressed their desire to take part in the various activities of the Vimukhti Mission and also bring their friends for counselling and treatment.
• 87.33% of those who overcame drug use indicated that counselling was an important factor in reducing the use of drugs.
• 58.16% of those who shed the drug habit were of the opinion that stringent enforcement measures were necessary.