The death by suicide of Bollywood Hindi cinema star Sushant Singh Rajput on June 14 has focused an overdue spotlight on contemporary India’s illicit subterranean narcotics trade and growing substance (including tobacco and alcohol) abuse within the world’s largest adolescent and teenage population. According to a survey conducted by the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment, the number of narcotic drug users in the country has spiraled from 2 million in 2004 to 20 million in 2019. Disturbingly, numerous surveys have highlighted that the most damaged groups are teens and youth.
Widespread substance abuse tipping young people into drug addiction is a problem that cannot be ignored any longer. A recent study published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry reports that by the time most children reach class IX, half of them have experimented with at least one banned drug. In some states of the Indian Union such as Gujarat and Punjab, the prevalence of drug abuse among adolescents is 30.17 percent and 75 percent respectively. The most common harmful substances consumed by children and adolescents are tobacco and alcohol followed by inhalants and cannabis (marijuana aka weed). The consequences of drug addiction for vulnerable adolescents are poor academic performance, unsafe sexual behaviour, juvenile crime, and social misdeameanours.
In our cover story this month, we highlight ways and means parents and educators can protect children from harmful substances and safeguard them against descending into the abyss of addiction. The consensus of opinion among psychologists, psychiatrists and mental health experts is that the primary onus is on parents to closely monitor teenage children’s social interactions and behaviour without being judgmental and preachy, and constantly warn them about the destructive consequences of substance abuse and the dangers of narcotics addiction.
There is much else in this information-packed October issue of ParentsWorld. Check out the Early Childhood feature about the importance of encouraging toddlers to play independently and adolescence story on protecting children’s eyes as they learn online.
Also read: Creeping childhood mental health crisis