Drug Addiction: Is society to be blamed for it all?


Ibankyntiew Mawrie

A captive of chemical prison, tortured by an insatiable craving for relief—is our society lending a helping hand or hammering the last nail to the coffin?

Is being a drug addict or HIV positive, a 'criminal offence' in Meghalaya? If the opinion of experts is anything to go by with, Shillong is evolved, educated yet ignorant as it still refuses to assist the fallen or victims of HIV Aids and Drug Addiction. Tagging 'drug addiction' as a 'Taboo' and a 'Sin', the society is still a long way in accepting the fact that addiction is a disease which could be cured and HIV positives are

A helping hand is all that is needed to make a change in the lives of the addicts; instead the society chooses to turn them into victims of chemical imbalance and social neglect.

A testimony of a recovered addict, Barry Leslie Kharmalki reflected the social imbalance and the mechanisms adopted to tackle drug addiction in the state.

"Branding addicts as 'criminals', the society is only making things worse", Kharmalki said adding that the solution lies not in forceful detoxification but in the manner how one sees the problem from an addict's perspective. "Then only can we help an addict get back on his/her feet," he opined.

Kharmalki, a programme manager of Manbha Foundation and Treasurer of the Meghalaya State Network of Positive People (MSNP+) is of the view that a society plays a big role in saving them from the onslaught of stigmatization.

"They (Addicts) need acceptance not rejection," he said adding that their world is already shattered and they are trying hard specially the recovering addicts to be normal again and if they are ridiculed and paraded in public instead of being encouraged, they will certainly be dishearten and choose to continue their lives in seclusion, embracing what they are running away from.

The trend is whenever any traditional body or social organization runs a crack down on drugs, many of the addicts and recovering addicts fall victims to it. "For sure, drug is a plague to the society and the intentions of the social organizations are positive yet the approach is wrong for they (addicts) are the victims and not the peddlers," he said.

It is okay to round them up and question for leads, but exposing them to the society, which is still in a denial mode, jeopardizes not only the will of the addicts to come forward but also their family members.

"You know our society, if there is an addict in the family, the entire society looks down on the family and if anything is stolen or chaos is created in the locality, they (addicts) becomes the prime suspect," Kharmalki said. "All for nothing but being hooked to a silent killer," he added.

According to Kharmalki, it takes time to get addicted to drugs, in the same way; it takes time to get out of it. For a recovering addict, it is very difficult to Say No to drugs; he has to take small dosages and if the society adopts force or looks for an immediate solution to it, then the approach is wrong.

Other than medical-family support and counseling, the remedy lies in being 'Patient and Firm' in the belief–'I can still be a normal person and live a normal life'.

2 Timothi 1:7 says "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind."