News headlines

Rashmi Bansal -
Mumbai, Jun 5:
A guy with glazed eyes and a day old stubble. That's the image of Rahul Mahajan playing over and over on television.

Stoic and grieving, we thought last month. The droopy 'I'm on drugs' look it seems like now. Not that both are mutually exclusive.

People generally take drugs as an escape from misery. And misery takes many forms. The very rich have their own set of woes, very different from the very poor. But both of them are more likely to use drugs as a temporary anaesthetic.   

The very rich shell out Rs 5,000 for a gram of cocaine. They even snort it using Rs 500 notes. Apparently, the 'high' lasts a mere 20 minutes. In those 20 minutes the user feels euphoric, energetic, talkative, and mentally alert.

Just reading about it makes you feel like ‘trying it once’. But I subscribe to the old school of thought which says 'stay away from drugs coz you never know just how much you might like it'.

Some say it’s all about having enough willpower to 'stay in control'. Stay unaddicted.

But I am not convinced. Is it really possible to be an occasional user—devoid of any cravings? Or, does it slowly but inevitably turn into a steep downward spiral?

The Young and the Restless

And yet, people take risks. People who look like they have ‘everything’. People who should know better.

Rahul Mahajan’s political career is finished before it even started. The sympathy India had for him has quickly evaporated. Just another spoilt brat with too much time and too much easy money on his hand.

But it’s far easier today to get involved in drugs than it used to be. For one, recreational drug use is invisible—mostly in private parties and nightclubs. It’s not about people in rags huddled at street corners, looking pathetic and hopelessly addicted. Although they well may be.

Secondly, if drug use is so rampant on the party circuit you don’t really hear of the rich, the famous and the wannabes dying of overdoses. They appear to lead pretty ‘normal’ lives.

And what did happen to guys like actor Fardeen Khan and Provogue owner Salil Chaturvedi? They were booked for possession of cocaine—and then quietly let off.

Neither entered any kind of drug rehab program. At least, it was never declared publicly. Fardeen, in fact, saw his career graph rise after the incident. And he even got married with huge fanfare (which decent girl would marry a drug addict, you think!)

But the fact is, much lies beneath the ‘I’m OK, you’re OK’ public stance. And if you ask me, a case like Rahul Mahajan’s will do a lot to educate young people about the possible dangers of drug use. Dangers that are hardly spoken of these days!

‘Just say no’

There was a time, in the mid 1980s, when the most powerful public service message aimed at the youth was ‘Don’t do drugs’. I remember a TV serial called Subah about a bunch of college kids who get sucked into the world of drugs. Actor Salim Ghouse played the role of the guy who gets addicted and completely wasted. It had a searing effect on many young minds, including mine.

Cut to two decades later. The action has shifted to HIV. ‘Safe sex’ is the message of the moment and no doubt it is extremely important. But drug abuse, it is assumed, ab sab ko pataa hai. They’re not good for you, no need to hammer the message home.

But while we have cocaine at the upper end of the spectrum and heroin / brown sugar at the lower one, there are other addictions we need to worry about. Cough syrups, Iodex ‘sandwiches’, labour pain pills, Alprax—the stuff available at chemist shops everywhere.

Then there is marijuana or grass, which many students consider ‘harmless’. The sickly sweet smell hangs heavy in the air at rock shows.

It starts as an experiment, a dare. Curiosity sated, you either swear off it, or get hooked. In which case it’s a quick way to take the edge off the trials and tribulations of life—poor grades, relationship problems, disappointments and failures.

Drugs may make you comfortably numb. Or ecstatically high. But in the long run you have to learn to get intoxicated on life itself. You have to find someone to love, something to live for.

That is the ultimate ‘fix’!

The views expressed in the article are the author's and not of


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