Say ‘no’ to drugs

Tanya De
Monday, 3 June 2019

Pune-based health and rehab experts tell us how more and more youngsters are finding alternatives to drugs and misusing prescription drugs

Recently, we observed World No Tobacco Day to spread awareness of the harmful effects of smoking and tobacco use.

But tobacco is not the only problem, alcohol and drug abuse is rampant among youngsters. Prescription drug abuse is also common. 

The misuse of drugs prescribed by doctors is done by increasing the dosage, stealing or forging prescriptions. All this is  illegal and can be extremely harmful to the patient’s health.

Though illegal, a lot people find solace in these drugs, so where and why does it start? 

Dr Rupali Karwa Choudhary (MBBS, DPM), residential psychiatrist at Samyak Rehabilitation Centre, says that sometimes prescription drugs are not limited to abuse, it gets converted into addiction. “When the patient is misusing the prescribed drug, they can be controlled through OPD visits with a few medicines but when it turns into an addiction it is very difficult to treat, and these patients may require indoor admission or enrollment for a de-addiction programme,” she says. 

Initially, these drugs can provide the patient a sense of relief.

“But this sense of relief may lead to addiction,” says Karwa Choudhary, adding, “Each of these drugs when prescribed serves a purpose. For instance, those who suffer from insomnia and other sleep disorders are often prescribed sedatives by their general physician. But sometimes they get addicted to them. Allprax is the most commonly abused sedative found.” 

According to a recent report by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), it was found at the national level, about 1.08 pr cent Indians (approximately 1.18 crore people) are current users of sedatives. As with other substances, there is heterogeneity in the prevalence of sedative use across different Indian states. States with the highest prevalence of current sedative use are Sikkim (8.6 per cent), Nagaland (5.4 per cent), Manipur (4.3 per cent) and Mizoram (3.8 per cent). However, Uttar Pradesh (19.6 lakh), Maharashtra (11.6 lakh), Punjab (10.9 lakh), Andhra Pradesh (7.4 lakh) and Gujarat (7 lakh) are the top five states which has the largest population of people using sedatives.

Dr Amar Shinde, psychiatrist at Jagruti Rehabilitation Centre, says, “Patients of prescription drug abuse are usually in the age group of 20 to 40 years. These drugs are available illegally, and many people take these medicines without a prescription. In other words, we may prescribe the medicine for a month, but they can continue to take it without informing the doctor and many a time, pharmacies sell these drugs  over the counter.”

People with a history of alcohol or drug abuse are most likely to get addicted to prescription drugs. Talking about how the number of young addicts is rising, Sanjay Bhagat, trainer coordinator from Muktangan Rehabilitation Centre, says, “We have a 17-and-a-half-year-old, who is still under medical care. His treatment was completed but doctors decided to extend it for another month. He is from a well-to-do family, but he got into addiction  when he got into wrong company. It started with smoking, then peer pressure pushed him to drugs and prescription drugs as well. Drugs aren’t easily available as the police and the anti-narcotics departments of Pune are vigilant. So youngsters then start finding alternatives to drugs, hence they start misusing prescription drugs.”

The experts agree that it all comes down to monitoring the ones who need help and controlling their addiction. 

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