Reel or Real

June 27, 2023

International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking – June 26

Rohan*{name changed to protect confidentiality} was a good student till 10th grade. Then Corona pandemic struck! In the pandemic he became very bored. There was no school and so much free time. He started spending lot of time with the rowdies of his locality. Very soon his behaviour started changing. The once soft spoken and sincere son, became reckless, short tempered and hyperactive. His mother noticed him to be sleeping less and playing music till late in the night. He would go out of the house in the evening and come home very late. One day he was particularly disturbed. He kept pacing up and down. He was talking to himself. He thought someone was going to harm him. He hid under his bed. He was brought to the hospital looking fearful and agitated.

During history taking Rohan described his Meth journey. He was initially not into any hard core drugs. He used to enjoy smoking while hanging out with his friends. He would smoke up weed occasionally but weed was never his favourite. It had a dulling effect. That’s when Rakesh* got him introduced to Meth. He had an exam coming up and he had hardly studied. He was feeling very low after breaking up with his girlfriend. He wanted something to give him a high. But Meth was not cheap and the people dealing with Meth were not really his friends, so he thought he would peddle some to use some. He never realised how slowly he got pulled into this imaginary yet exciting world of stimulant drugs. They started asking him to take sedatives to balance its effect. But a dose of sedative was never enough and one thing led to the other when suddenly one day, after snorting a particular dose of Meth he began to feel dizzy. He saw people with distorted faces trying to run towards him with sticks in their hands. He felt under attack. He heard loud noises which were very disturbing and unreal. When he was brought to the hospital, he was in a daze.

It took Rohan* a long time to reveal what he felt. He said no one ever understood him when he was a good boy. His parents were too busy and his life was so dull that he hated it. When these cool boys in his locality who always appeared relaxed and jovial, invited him to join their gang he considered himself lucky. They were his lifeline. They did everything together. They even beat up rival gang members together. Such brotherhood was all he needed to feel happy, to feel accepted and finally free.

Smoking cigarettes was particularly liberating. He did not care when his neighbouring aunties gave him dirty looks, he was able to literally blow away his sorrow in the smoke. His girlfriend of a year broke up with him as he caught her red handed dating another classmate. That shattered him. He could not trust any female ever. How could he after his sweetheart ditched him for a wealthier dude? He lost all faith in humanity and now the drugs which helped him feel good so far, ceased to be effective. Correctly Rakesh* was there on his side. He had a shoulder to cry on and a person to listen to his endless saga on the cheating, now ex-girlfriend.
Rakesh coaxed him to try Meth once. Initially he refused, but later he agreed. It felt like heaven. He felt very energetic. As if every nerve in his body had been activated. He wanted to dance for hours and listen to music endlessly on his earphones. He didn’t care about anything now. His failing grades didn’t bother him. His mother’s crying and pleading didn’t affect him and he has no regret that he was without a steady girlfriend. He now had multiple meaningless flings with girls who were also hooked to Meth like he was. It was a new carefree world.

He stole money for the first time from his father’s wallet. Felt guilt only for the first time. Later justified it to himself saying that he deserved more pocket money. He never owned up to stealing. He never got caught. He sold a silver article from the puja room. But he was an Atheist. God couldn’t punish him. He would sell drugs in certain hostels where he knew people were too shy to buy it themselves and he was always smart to keep some for himself. He was very popular with the girls because he was polite and respectful. He had learnt the art of blending in and not getting caught.

He never realised that what started as an antidote to break up was making him dependent. He lost track of time. He lost interest in studies. He failed his tests. He did not care. He pushed his mother and hurt her for the first time in his life when she nagged him for coming home late every night. He did not feel guilty. She had to stop nagging. This was the only way.

If not for the hallucinations, Rohan* would have never come for treatment. But the voices in his head scared him. When people’s faces started to appear distorted, he wondered if his Meth was impure. He freaked out. He had known many cases of accidental deaths of people on drugs. He didn’t want to die. He started crying loudly when he saw people with sticks trying to chase him. That’s how he agreed to come to the hospital. To be safe.

It took us a while to understand where this teenager comes from. His condition was pitiable. He was distraught. He needed empathy. The detoxification phase was a week long. He needed antipsychotics to calm him down. The deaddiction part was tricky because he started denying the connection between Meth and psychosis. He said it was recreational and he would not cross the limit next time. His friends and customers were messaging him. It was important that he gets discharged immediately. We had to keep his phone away.

He fought, he argued, he called the treating team a hoax. For him his messiah was not being allowed to meet him. He was with us for over 3 weeks. He attended classes on deaddiction reluctantly at first and willingly later. He liked to talk to other patients though and listen to their life stories. He never wanted to get admitted again. He had enough of ‘gyan’ from doctors. Earlier it was his mother and now these doctors.

At discharge however he promised he would come for follow up in the clinic. He said he would take his medications correctly. But he would join college in another locality. His parents wanted to send him far away. Away from his current neighbourhood to a distant relatives house in the village. He had to leave the city he was born and brought up in due to drugs.

As a psychiatrist I think my role is that of a healer, a person who attempts deaddiction. But I have so many questions which as a soviet we are collectively responsible to answer …

Why are our youth drawn to drugs?
Why procuring drugs is so easy?
How roadside vendors can freely sell drugs?
Why the punishment is factually different for different people?
Why parents are afraid of children these days?
Why the youth feel entitled but not responsible?
Why there are no surgical strikes on drug mafia?
How as a progressive society, we can turn a blind eye to this increasing menace which is affecting our children?

Well, as a treating doctor and psychiatrist I see only the tip of the iceberg. After the deaddiction program my patient goes back to the same environment where the drugs are freely available. My treatment is likely to fail more if I am ignorant about these facts of our society.

Drug abuse is for real. We are staying in a society where drugs are freely available. Youth are naturally attracted to drugs due to their inclination to novelty and risk taking. It’s the age. Unfortunately this is also the time when they can become demotivated and directionless for life. Drugs can destroy families and take lives.

It’s time we become intolerant to drugs. It’s not cool to take drugs. We need laws to be more practically reformed. Punishments need to be fair and equal. Drug world is a web of interlinked networks. It has to be dealt with slowly but sternly. We need to wake up before it’s too late….




By Dr Supriya Hegde Aroor
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Comment on this article

  • Dev, Mangalore

    Thu, Jun 29 2023

    Around 1986 Doordarshan had a serial "Subah" a good serial based on college, the ragging of freshers and how they got hooked on to drugs and finally those with family support coming out of the vice while one boy losing the battle with no family with him. Though times have changed the problem hasn't been solved but has become more dangerous with modern lifestyle and gadgets available now. I've seen people and boys and girls getting trapped while blaming others and religious beliefs as pack of stories to cover their guilt of breaking their tenets. I've also seen they live together and having kids and some breaking the cycle and returning to normal life and getting employment too, but they have a long term struggle to stay away from the vice living each hour and day at a time resisting the temptations and staying away from the old environment and friends. Yeah today's kids have no word called gratitude in their dictionary and doesn't know the hardwork their parents put in to earn the money, unless they learn the basics of this they wouldn't care for the efforts of parents in giving them better lifestyle which they didn't enjoy themselves. We need more allround education which presently we don't have and only focusses on scoring marks by mugging and getting grades and well paying jobs. They need motivational books which teaches them not to work for money but how to manage their finance and be successful to succeed in financial as well as personal lives.

  • Ben D'Souza Prabhu, Mangalore, Bombay Bandra now in Canada

    Wed, Jun 28 2023

    Yes, Very Well Doctor ! Your statement is REAL ! I personally like your candid Statement and assertion ! May Almighty Grant you strength !!!

  • Joe Britto, Nakre/Bangalore

    Wed, Jun 28 2023

    Thanks Dr Supriya Hegde Aroor for such a important Article on a subject which is a menace and ruining Families !

  • Aurelia Menezes, Bejai, Mangalore

    Wed, Jun 28 2023

    Nice article Dr. Thanks for creating awareness and making it an interesting read.

  • Daniel, Mangalore

    Tue, Jun 27 2023

    Doctor, Good, an eye opener article on a real life or ongoing drug menace in youth. And it looks like a worldwide problem. With advancement of AI in industries, Ai Doctor, Auto driven cars... and many job losses... So Dr Yuval Noah Harari who is a top advisor to the President of World Economic Forum warns of potential of AI and what to do with the useless people in many of his videos available online on youtube. He solution or says drugs and computer games, to keep them busy all day and universal basic income in some other video. Then their pandemics after pandemics and 'vaccines' without which one cannot travel or buy and sell. In US already communist supplied deadly fentanyl drug menance is raging among youth, with many fatalities. So for youth self control, focus and hard work in their studies, trust in God is the need of the hour. Instead of loosing life to drugs or getting enslaved to drugs and under the influence of it landing in hellish condition or finally if hell itself, if not recuperated or simply not come out of it, it is not surprising. So very good health article and guidance specially for the youth!! Following referenced couple of Dr Yuval's interview short videos, titled, (Ref:) "Drugs and computer games. *Laughs in Dr. Yuval Noah Harari*" ... "Yuval Harari warns about the potential of AI"

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