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Substance abuse – a complex problem hidden in the epidemic

According to 2018 figures, 3.1 crore Indians are estimated to be using drugs. Of these, 89% are opioid-based users. It is estimated that 1.1.8 crore people are using drugs without a prescription. The fact that a large percentage of those who use them are children and young people shows the severity of the situation. India has more than 6 crore people consuming alcohol, which is more than the population of 172 other countries in the world. Of these, 4.6% of men consume alcohol, which means that the ratio of men to women who consume alcohol is 17: 1. This is followed by cannabis by 2.8 percent and opium-based drugs by 2.1 percent, according to various studies. It is also estimated that 19 per cent of those who consume alcohol are full-time entrepreneurs and 25 per cent of those who consume cannabis are 100 per cent entrepreneurs.
National Anti-Drug Day is celebrated annually on October 2, the birthday of our Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.
The main objective is to make India a drug free country by preventing the youth of the country from turning to drugs. This is because in the patriarchal country, the youth have been strongly condemning pedophilia in the name of drugs.

Drugs are one of the biggest problems plaguing our society. It not only destroys the life of one person but also brushes the whole society. As a result, the person loses the ability to make good decisions, putting his or her career, family, loved ones, and friends aside and prioritizing drugs. Being addicted to such drugs not only leads to a loss of social discernment but also to a number of mental health problems in the person concerned.

Covid is about to cross a thorny road with the challenges posed by the epidemic at a moment when the man realizes what he is doing and wants to change.The best solution is to break your fears or problems into a series of smaller steps
Modern youth today face many challenges related to violence, stress, AIDS as well as drugs. The big challenge is to find and deal with these challenges before they become dangerous. That is why any awareness programs on drug prevention are conducted mainly with the aim of explaining the dangers of their use and thereby nurturing them. Such drug abuse causes many misfortunes at home, in educational institutions and in society. Drug abuse is the illicit use of drugs or the use of drugs for purposes other than those specified.
Drugs such as alcohol and tobacco are readily available to young children, teenagers, and young adults. However, parents play a key role in informing their children, rather than abusing them. Children need to be made aware of these, especially when they are new to school and in primary school. To this end, parents and teachers need to make them aware of this. Because at this age the future will go smoothly if they are guided in the right direction. They also need to be taught who these drugs are, how they cause side effects, and why they should not be taken.
Parents should start talking about similar things with growing children. Observe and discuss with them whether they are receiving such drugs at school, during games, or through any other friends. This is because the influence of the parents on the children is high on making the right decision on their use. By talking to them like this they should also be taught to make sure that if someone offers or forces them to do something like this, I will not take it, it is not mine.
Knowingly and unknowingly people fall into the drug trap. They start taking drugs under the pressure of friends along with curiosity to experiment with something, for fun or pleasure or to see what happens. Some get out of such things quickly and others get stuck in the mud and ruin life. In the process, they smuggle in siren drugs and other illicit drugs used to save lives. If the situation worsens, they will be disgusted with the work they are doing when their physical and mental health is completely damaged and will have hope of a normal life again.
Treatment Options Available

According to Dr. Johnsey Thomas, Lifestyle Psychologist and Strategist Health-Wellness & EAP Consultant Certified Cognitive Behavioral Therapist, Aster Prime Hospital, Ameerpet, Hyderabad, there are many options that have been successful in treating drug addiction, including:

Psychotheraphy and Counseling
Psychiatric Treatment
medical devices and applications used to treat withdrawal symptoms or deliver skills training
evaluation and treatment for co-occurring mental health issues such as depression and anxiety
long-term follow-up to prevent relapse

A range of care with a tailored treatment program and follow-up options can be crucial to success. Treatment should include both medical and mental health services as needed. Follow-up care may include community- or family-based recovery support systems.

Complications during Pandemic

The stress and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic are presenting enormous challenges for these individuals, but ultimately the altered realities of healthcare may create opportunities to reach more people with services and possibly even increase the reach of recovery support systems.  Significant increases in many kinds of drug use have been recorded since March, when a national emergency was declared and our lives radically changed due to lockdown and the closure of businesses and schools.

The national drug de-addiction helpline witnessed a huge spike in calls in April when the lockdown was in full swing, receiving 4996 calls, the highest for a month since January. Even the total number of calls between April to June at over 9400 was higher compared to 8208 calls received from January to March.
In fact, there was a 200% rise in the initial days after the imposition of the lockdown from March 25. Compared to an average of 90 calls a day from 15th to 21st March normally, the helpline received 266 calls a day from March-end to April 5.

Overcoming Challenges
The good news is that policy changes facilitating telehealth and expanding access to medications for opioid use disorder may compensate somewhat for these problems. People with opioid use disorders can now begin treatment without an initial in-person doctor visit, which used to be the rule. The stresses of the pandemic and the social isolation resulting from distancing measures may take an especially great toll on people trying to achieve or in recovery from an Substance use disorders. Three quarters of a recently conducted survey respondents reported emotional changes since the beginning of the pandemic, especially increased worry (62%), sadness (51%), fear (51%), and loneliness (42%). These emotions increase the risk for relapse, and unfortunately, circumstances since the pandemic have made peer support, for instance in 12-step meetings and similar groups, much more difficult.
While online recovery supports may not be an option for all and cannot fully capture the in-person experience, here, as in the realm of treatment, teleconferencing tools and smart phone apps are helping some people adapt to restrictions on physical gatherings.
COVID-19 continues to be an uncertain, ever-evolving reality, and its impacts are particularly being felt among those with addiction and those in recovery from substance use disorders. At this point, there is very sparse data on how SUDs are affecting COVID-19 susceptibility and outcomes, although findings are emerging slowly. As we think about and support this community, this month and every month, we need to imagine and implement new ways of facilitating treatment delivery and needed recovery supports under these new circumstances.


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