Mangaluru: Got Weed! “That’s some good ganja, Man. Only needed two hits and I was gone” that’s one of the conversation I heard between two youths at a local pub few days ago. Every time you see couple of youth heading towards the rest-room, they are not really going for a recess, but to have a quick drag on ganja – and it’s true, because once they come out of the toilet, the place stinks of weed. Yes, Mangaluru and DK has been making headlines lately with news of drug trafficking and also teens/young adults/women getting addicted to alcohol and substance abuse, and some resulting in committing suicides due to depression or deaths due to over dose. It is learnt that teenagers, women are getting hooked to alcohol and substance abuse in Mangaluru and Manipal/Udupi-the education hubs of Dakshina Kannada, and doctors attribute it to easy availability of dope, peer pressure, or depression.
It is learnt that the city has recorded a marked increase in incidents of ganja peddling, bringing to fore a disturbing trend that indicates a spike in the youth falling prey to the drug. Police say every time they crack down on ganja peddlers new gangs surface which smuggle the contraband primarily from neighbouring states, especially Goa. The data suggested that abuse of ganja has been on the rise in city particularly among the youths. Ganja peddlers target college students as buyers as well as their agents also.
While most of the peddlers are habitual offenders with criminal records, some of them are first time offenders who were drawn into the illegal trade as customers. “First they approach the gangs to buy ganja for their own use. The gangs lure them with promise of good money and make them sell ganja gradually. This happens with college students who after a point of time start selling ganja to fellow students,” said a police officer. Although police have also tightened their vigil in the wake of detection of ganja cultivation in the city outskirts, but many say that even the some of the cops also play a vital role by associating with the peddlers.
Although there had been couple of meetings between De-addiction and Counseling Centres with the district administrative officials to discuss the increase of youngsters falling to narcotic and psychotropic drugs, but drug addiction among the youth is still continuing. During one of the meeting held few months ago, Lidia Lobo of Link De-addiction and Counselling Centre had said, “Youth aged between 16 and 18 were getting addicted to drugs which is a matter of concern and de-addiction is extremely rigid”. Hilda Rayappan from Prajna Counselling Centre mentioned that they have so far treated 18,290 persons in the last 24 years at their three de-addiction centres in city. “This has been really effective; however it is difficult in running these three centres as there are no regular grants from the State government”, she added.
It was reported that increasing number of teenagers/young adults in Mangaluru are getting hooked to drugs/alcohol, and doctors are worried about the situation. “We are seeing double the number of patients as against 5 years ago. I see 40 patients in a week of which 10 are in their teens. Of these, 5 are cases of substance abuse, ranging from smoking to multiple abuses including consuming cannabis, inhaling glue,solvents, smoking weed, and consuming over the limit cough syrups. Of these, 20% are girls, who visit me with depression, have slashed their wrists or have suffered breakups. The reason is “a new-found sense of freedom”, to show their rebellious nature or that they are on par with the males or because some of them are secure or want to attract attention. Many of the teens that I treat are locals-some students, some work part time”-had said one professor at Department of Psychiatry, KMC, Mangaluru.
“Everyday, Fr Muller Hospital admits six to ten patients, on an average, who have alcohol dependent syndrome or alcohol-related psychiatric problems or drug addiction. And this is all year long. Women, majority of them have secondary alcoholism, driven to it due to other underlying psychiatric illnesses such as depression and anxiety” had said HOD of Psychiatry, Fr Muller Medical College, Mangaluru. There is no problem with availability of ganja in rural areas, and possibly as it is a matter of demand and supply. It is not as if drugs are being sold brazenly in broad daylight. Even if the police raid one shop and close it down for illegal sale of smoke stuff, those who want it will find some other way to get it.
Ganja is inexpensive and can be bought for Rs 50 a gram as against more expensive drugs like brown sugar, costing nearly Rs 1500-Rs 4000 a gram. Social changes make it difficult to deal with such issues. Earlier, children feared parents, teachers and elders-nowadays parents work and there is spare money that a child has access to. In dealing and to curb with substance abuse, society has to play a big role-because it is very hard for the police to control the drug menace on its own.
Yes, it’s sad to note that the substance abuse among teenagers/young adults is growing in Mangaluru, with smoking, trying out ganja…injecting or inhaling drugs etc etc-most of these are available illegally at shops selling cigarettes, paan shops, hostels or through agents. Users form a well-knit network and no names are mentioned as they are scared of implications. The other problem is that the parents are unaware that their children are addicted to substance abuse as they use a lot of masking behaviour. Also that they will not be home on time or they go out of town on trips with friends.
With most of the students in various professional colleges like medical, engineering, dental and other post-graduate studies are from other towns and states, there are free without parents guidance or care. Also with so many call centers popping up in the city, and since many of them operate business at night, there is ample opportunity for all these call center employees, who are quite young, to skip work and party at pubs, beaches or at private places. Only when they get into trouble or get totally sick, their parents will be in shock and denial. Some of them are very poor and very naive.
According to the police, the city’s status as a drug consumption centre is high because of the easy availability of ganja. “However, there is a less demand for drugs like cocaine, heroin and opium as they are costly and are made available only in case of specific demand. Ganja is commonly used by slum dwellers, smokers, drug addicts and youngsters because of their easy availability. The youth are mostly attracted to ganja and charas. Youth smoke ganja mixed in cigarettes. Women consume less as compared to men. Most students engage in ganja and cocaine.”
Recently the excise officials from the city inspected a train arriving from Kerala at the Kankanady junction station and detected ganja worth Rs 6 lakh- Ateem (28) was arrested by the Konaje police in Nettilapadavu of Kairangala village. Few days ago, excise dept officials seized 450 gms of marijuana worth Rs 1.75 lakhs from a auto-rickshaw near Ashoknagar-the auto driver managed to flee. On 6 Feb, 2016, Excise department arrested three persons trading ganja and seized ganja worth Rs 50,000 from their possession from Jalligudda-the arrested have been identified as Avinash a resident of Padil, Naufal and Venkateshfrom Jalligudda.Already this year, the excise dept and police have seized around 2.5 kg ganja and have arrested several persons involved in drug peddling. So its clear that Ganja is been smuggled into this educational town, and not much has been done by the law enforcement officials. Many say that if police themselves are corrupt and are associated with these ganja peddlers, how can this problem be solved- a big question mark?
Yes, citizens and members of various community organizations can play an important role in stopping alcohol and substance abuse among teenagers and young adults-if you see anyone dealing with drugs/shops selling illegal smoking items or if you see someone whom you are sure is doing drugs, immediately inform the police or the concerned authorities. Anyone with information pertaining to drug trafficking or drug dealers immediately notify the law enforcement personal by dialing 100 or 9480802305, so that the concerned authorities can take quick action and grab the drug mafias.We the citizens can join hands along with the law enforcement authorities in controlling the drug menace in the city, and thereby save some innocent lives from this deadly “disease”?