Although Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s third radio address to the nation did address key concerns surrounding the menace of drug abuse, nuanced solutions for better treatment facilities and rehabilitation centres were not forthcoming. As per media reports, Modi’s key concern was that the money spent by youth on drugs could end up financing terror activities. Although the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime has established a direct link between terror activities and revenues accruing out of drug trafficking, the body is still unclear about the definitive contours of this relationship.
In his bid to alert the audience, however, the Prime Minister has continued to speak in a language that has left desperate addicts in the dark. By emphasising on the link between terror activities and the purchase of drugs, Modi has added another layer of taboo surrounding the habit. One of the key challenges faced by many anti-addiction programmes has been that several people under the influence are unable to address their demons out in the open, fearing social boycott. Although, Modi emphasised that addicts themselves were not bad people, nonetheless, such a discourse followed by an emphasis on the three D’s of drug addiction, namely darkness, devastation and destruction, only makes it harder for addicts to address their concerns in a manner that is likely to elicit much empathy.
Some of the solutions posed during the radio address included setting up a toll-free helpline to assist those seeking answers to tackle addiction, besides a greater coordination of efforts from family, friends, society, government and the law. Such solutions are tepid at best primarily because they do not address key shortfalls in infrastructure. Many de-addiction centres in the country are not even registered with any government authority. The registered ones, however, are bereft of any reasonable financial assistance.
The Centre’s support and commitment to run de-addiction centres is facile and requires a steady invigoration in terms of measures. Key to addressing any such situation, however, requires a database of traffickers and abusers. As a crime prevention measure, with the availability of data, law enforcement authorities could track arrested addicts and send them to organisations for treatment and if they were found selling drugs, they could be sent to prison for treatment. The pathetic condition of prisons in this country, however, requires another discourse altogether. Finally, crime prevention cannot be achieved without the support of the community. Voluntary groups could be created with adequate financial assistance, who regularly coordinate their efforts with local bodies. Opening of toll-free phone lines, where people could inform us of sale or consumption of drugs, will add further weight to the solution. However, without proper infrastructure, such helplines are fruitless.