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Emerging Substance Abuse Disorder in Moreh Town: A Psychological Approach

by Rinku Khumukcham
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By: Dr. Suantak Demkhosei Vaiphei
As a commercial capital of Manipur and a centre for the Indo-Myanmar trade relationship, Moreh has a serious substance misuse problem (alcohol, illegal drugs, and/or prescribed medications in ways that produce harm to ourselves and those around us). These hugely deteriorate the quality of life – health, education, social system, family relationship, and are debilitating and killing us from within. Particularly, the youngsters (between the age of 13-17 years old) are associated with WY (88), SP (spasmo-proxyvon), Cannabis, Brown Sugar addictions, and excessive use of alcohol. Substance abuse refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances including alcohol and illicit drugs, which cause health and social problem, including addiction. Substance abuse disorder is a disease that hugely affects the individual brain functioning, leading to abnormal behaviour and resulted in an inability to control the use of legal or illegal drugs or medications.
In my personal interview, I have found that most of the addicted people were painfully aware of the size and cost of substance misuse problem, but continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. Addiction usually begins with the experimental use of a recreational drug in social situations and the use of drug becomes more frequent. Sadly, in Moreh, the youngsters were exposed to several kinds of drugs by society at an early age and some are from the drug lord’s family, where they can easily access the drugs since childhood. In another case, the drug addiction begins with exposure to prescribed medications from the pharmacy, friends, or relative who has been prescribed the medications. As per my finding, some children learn about the use or misuse of drugs from their family members. The greatest social influence is the family itself, which transmits from one generation to another.
The truth is that there is no single cause of drug addiction. Psychologists have identified the four basic categories for the cause of drug addiction; biological, psychological, socio-economic, and spiritual, which is usually known as the biopsychosocial-spiritual model of drug addiction. All these factors are responsible for the causes of drug addiction among the youngsters in Moreh town. The biological causes of drug addiction can be seen in the individual unique physiological and genetic factors. Psychologically, the individual learns to anticipate some benefits like stress reduction, relief from boredom and tension, pleasurable sensations, coping with negative feelings or difficult life situations, or simply the benefit of avoiding withdrawal symptoms. Socio-cultural also plays a very important role for the drug addiction among the youngster in Moreh town. When the culture accepts or tolerates drug business as a part of life or family income, the members of the group are more vulnerable to addiction. Spirituality is another driving factor for drug addiction, it is when people failed to find meaning, values, goals, and purpose in life they are usually disconnected from the spiritual world (God or Transcendent being). As the disconnection increase, failure to live in harmony with the universe increase and addiction progress.
It is to be noted that psychological disorders play an important role in the formation of drug addiction. On the other hand, any form of drug addiction is always accompanied by some psychological disorders. Sometimes it is the psychological problem that preceded the addiction and the drug becomes the coping mechanism. Therefore, parents need to learn to acknowledge and address the ongoing psychological problems among the youngsters. When these problems are not identified and properly addressed, drug abuse and psychological disorders occur together with a rather astonishing frequency. The darker part is when the drug became self-medication to relieve symptoms of psychological disorders, the risk of relapse becomes beyond reach. Drug addiction is a chronic disease characterized by a compulsive drug-seeking behaviour, despite knowing its harmful consequences. Drug addiction is also a relapsing disease, as the functioning of the brain changes that occur over time with drug use challenge the individual self-control and hugely affect the ability to resist intense urges for drugs. Once the individual control by the drug, it affects the brain reward circuit by floating it with the chemical messenger dopamine. In which, the surges of dopamine in the brain’s reward circuit cause the reinforcement of pleasurable but unhealthy activities, leading the individual to adopt that repeated behaviour. However, the good news is that drug addiction is a treatable disease and can be successfully managed like other diseases. It is also true to say that, drug addiction is preventable in all manners. It requires a direct and collaborative network between parents, teachers, social workers, spiritual leaders, health care workers, and psychologists in educating or spreading the awareness among the young and school-going children on drug use and addiction.
(The author is an Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Christ Deemed to be University, Bangalore)

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