International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking: Kick the habit

Since there is ample data to show that drugs lead to addiction and cause multiple health and social problems, consumers must be watchful and report to psychiatrists for slightest symptoms

International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking: Kick the habit

June 26 is observed as the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Also called 'World Drug Day', this occasion is used to remind the member states of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) to keep working towards creating a society free of drug abuse.

What are illicit drugs? What are narcotics? How are they used?

An illicit drug is one that is illegal to have and possess. A narcotic is an illegal drug that affects our mind in a harmful way. The scientific term used is "psychoactive drugs". These drugs are often used for recreational purposes. Psychoactive drugs are used to induce an altered state of consciousness for pleasure or a pastime. These drugs lead to modification in the perceptions, feelings, and emotions of the user. Even though many users begin with a once-in-a-while usage, the risk of becoming dependent is high with these drugs.

Indian scenario

Our country has a problem with drug use. Millions of Indians misuse drugs and many are dependent on alcohol, cannabis, and opiates. According to an AIIMS report, nearly 18 lakh adults and 4.6 lakh children fall in the badly addicted category, while the occasional use is a lot more rampant. Alcohol, cannabis, opium, and heroin are the major drugs misused in India.

The street names of popular drugs used in India

A street name is a way of referring to the drug without divulging its real name. These names are devised to deceive cops and others.

Cannabis: weed, MJ, Maryjane, dope, pot, grass

Opioids: brown sugar, smack, junk, H, opium

Amphetamine variants: Meow-meow, MCAT, study drug

LSD: acid, blotter

Cocaine: coke, snow

Sedatives: blues, sleeping pills, downers, chill pill

Changing scenarios & research around the world

With Thailand recently legalising weed, following suit after Canada and parts of the USA, the world is left divided upon policies. Many users like to believe that Cannabis is a softer drug, medicinally beneficial and may cause no harm to them. The fact is that Cannabis has a psychoactive part (THC) that can cause ill effects and a medicinal part (CBD) that can help allay anxiety, lower pain, and increase appetite in terminally ill patients. CBD can be found in other forms than recreational and has little to lesser abuse potential. Often, the cannabis available on the streets is laced with other psychoactive drugs as well.

While there is ongoing research in the realms of micro-dosing LSD and other psychoactive compounds, it is still in the nascent stage with mixed data. On the other hand, there are years of data to back up that drug use can become an addiction and lead to potential harm to the body, mind, and social and occupational lives of a person.

Am I addicted to drugs?

Addiction (dependence) is diagnosed by a mental health professional (psychiatrist) who takes into consideration the history, tests, and observations. If you are wondering whether you may be addicted, ask yourself the following about your recent drug use.

Tolerance: Has your drug use gone up? Do you need the drug in more quantity and frequency than before?

Craving: Are you unable to stop using drugs despite a strong desire, or even many attempts, to do so?

Harmful use: Have you used drugs in situations that are deemed hazardous or physically dangerous, like driving? Have you continued using drugs in spite of the knowledge that using them is creating emotional, social, and physical consequences?

Time spent: Do you spend a great deal of time on ways to obtain drugs, use them, and recover from drug use?

Ignoring other things: Are your social and recreational activities now ignored due to drug use? Have you failed to attend important work, and social or family obligations due to drugs?

Relationships: Are your relationships having a negative impact due to your drug use?

Withdrawal: Have you had physical or psychological withdrawal after stopping the drug for a few days? Drug withdrawal symptoms may include gastrointestinal upset, headaches, depression, anxiety, insomnia, irregular heart rate and blood pressure, irritability, agitation, and fatigue

If you find yourself fitting some of the above, it's best to seek help with a trained mental health professional.

Our country recently observed a 'Drug Destruction Day' on June 8, Wednesday where 42,000 kilograms of narcotics were destroyed in 14 different locations under the government's watch.

Famous shows on drug use and issues

'Breaking Bad' and 'Narcos'

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