We don’t notice them, we don’t see them, we don’t know from where they got it, but these people are using it every day. Yes this is about narcotic substances commonly known as ‘drugs’. These substances are abused by many adolescents and youths for one reason or another. They are called as drug addicts, now they term has been change to substance abusers. Almost one and half year, movements , gathering and even vendors that sell illicit drugs and alcohol has been seen closed. But the number of people who are use to live on theses illicit drugs are not decreasing. People who are dependent to these illicit substances now are coming in the street making them visible to the public due to the lockdown and the curfew. It is not that everyone who comes out of necessity during curfew time are people who are dependent to the illicit substances, but recently , there were photos with blurred on their face hangering among here and there searching for drugs. A person who had committed to served homeless people with food during lockdown had found many who are drug addicts and he himself had told that they have been sent to rehab center for treatment.
Everyone knows the substance abusers are people who are very hard to reach. They are also very smart as long as they have money to buy the substances and can even fool the law enforcers leaving aside their parents.
Since the early 80s, the government of Manipur has been taking up all possible programme to solve the menace of drugs. But the main focus was to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS and almost all programme associated were about to prevent the spread of HIV and AIDS. The target people at that time was the Injecting drug users as HIV and AIDS transmitted through syringe sharing. Next, come the commercial sex workers and others.
When the government fight the menace of the spread of Drug used, a huge amount of money has been spent through NGOs, which were empanelled to the Manipur State AIDS Control Society. Needle Syringe Exchanged Programme (NSEP), the opening of drop-in centres etc. were some of the priority given. We had witnessed NGOs flooded to get the programme those time and many have easily lived on the programme no matter they serve the propose or not. Saying so it was some of the dedicated NGOs which save the image of the MACS.
It is interesting that the Social Welfare department of the Government of Manipur had finally made a policy for the prevention of the drug abuse issues.
A two-day webinar programme organised by the department discussed in-depth the issue of how the local club members could be made involved in the fighting of the war against drug. The webinar which allows everyone to join organised under the title Empowering Youths on Prevention of Drug use perhaps gives some ideas to the initiative of the state social welfare department in its commitment to cure the substance users and save the youths of the state.
As the state has already witnessed the misused of a large amount of fund during the implementation of the NSEP under the MACS, the authority of the Social Welfare department should not make it happen this time.
A grant of Rs. 15,000/- for oragnising a programme to the local club for the prevention of drug use is not much. But then there is the possibility that many with influential politicians or bureaucrats forcing the department to approved clubs whom they are in favour. This has been seen and is still a culture in the Manipur Society. Proper audit, proper checking and stern policy to reject all those club who applied to conduct such programme with Dos from Ministers or MLAs, or politicians should be rejected.
Let us not make the good policy prepared under much consultation with all stakeholders be meaningful and lets hope the programme free the state from the menace of drugs.