Every parent must be shuddering for the day when their son or daughter walks up to them and says “Yes dad, I am a drug addict!”. I am sure most are unable to cope with this sudden disclosure from their kids who they have always perceived to be pure, innocent and angelic. I think this revelation is far more shocking than your daughter telling their parents that she is not a virgin or that she believes in a live-in relationship.
The primary reason is the social taboo towards drugs. They have banned items and, at least in India, against the law. But wherever you go in India, drugs like marijuana and hashish are readily available. They are as much in demand at the spiritual sites of Kedarnath and Amaranth as they are in the underbelly of Bollywood, from the vanity vans of Filmistan to the editing studios of Famous Studio, everyone is indulging in some substance or the other. In India, young people have a better justification: “Well our very own lord Shiva smokes pot, so what’s wrong if we smoke it?”
The Drug Culture
This is not purely an addiction but an entire way of living and projecting your belief system. Drugs are the symbol of anti-establishment, youth rebellion, freedom and, need I say, heightened creativity. A lot of creative people do drugs to show off that they are really creative. But that doesn’t prove anything. Great artists like writer Javed Akhtar, Amitabh Bachchan, M.F Hussain were never into drugs but reached the pinnacle of their creative profession. In the US, drugs were prevalent during the flower power generation when the entire America was looking for love and peace. Music like trance, rave and metal are all steeped in the drug culture. Great artists were immortalised when they committed suicide due to a drug overdose; Curt Cobain and Jim Morrison to name a few. So it is also a commodity steeped in culture and values and has its own pleasant as well as unpleasant history.
So why do we take drugs? Well, people take painkillers, paracetamol and other medications to get rid of depression, mood swings, to feel relaxed or to have a good sleep. Drug addicts do it for the same reasons. They enjoy the high. It releases stress and soothes you down. It is non-violent in nature, unlike alcohol which leads to fights and pub brawls. I have been smoking dope for twenty years and that’s exactly why I smoke on a physical level. On the image level, I believe in all the cultural values and image statements that drugs make to the outside world. Although at age 43, you don’t really feel like rebelling anymore and the whole cultural idea sounds stupid to me now.
The pro-drug lobby agrees that herbal drugs are good for you. Indeed, marijuana has been given to cancer patients so that they could improve their appetites. Cocaine was an ingredient in painkillers that doctors use to give patients before tooth extraction. So, they state that it is just a bad publicity ploy by pharmaceutical companies to keep drugs off the shelf. Amsterdam has bars where one can smoke pot and some states in the US have legalised marijuana. One can also grow it. Indeed, the herb can also be sold over the counter.
So How Do You Cope as A Parent
This is a tricky thing as I am not a dad as yet. It is difficult for me to say how I would cope if my own son walked up to me and made this confession. Well, there is nothing much apart from counselling and talk that one can do. You can show your kids the harmful impact of drugs, teenage suicide, physical lethargy, memory loss and lack of awareness that drugs bring with them apart from the social evil of people talking behind your back. But I doubt that will work much. My father tried it with me and it didn’t work.
The rehab is a good way of pumping out drugs from your body. I have been treated in one for over two years along with counselling and therapies. But I always thought my doctor was an idiot who was making life even worse for me by experimenting on me with all his alternative medicine. By the time my doctor was through with me, I had almost become a cabbage and my brain had become like gel. The medical cure was even worse than my drug habit. First, I was doing just dope and pot a few times a day chasing it with a gramme of coke. Now, I was taking almost a dozen anti-drug pills coupled with monthly injections. Man, it was horrible. I became depressed and suffered from loss appetite. It was as if the whole world was beating me black and blue for a habit that I enjoyed and something I thought was a personal choice. Well, I was not stealing from anyone. I bought them from my own money and enjoyed them in the comfort of my home and friends. Then why should I be made to suffer?
The treatment was the worst thing that could have happened. It dampened my spirit and most of all. created a void, a hole within me in which I had to fill something. What filled it was depression and generally, a lack of motivation to go on and do the daily chores of life. I would just sleep all day as time would hang. I just couldn’t enjoy all the things I enjoyed before like music, films, video games and even masturbation. It was as if people, my parents and so-called well-wishers were taking away all my prized possessions in life. I felt like a little girl whose favourite teddy had been taken away. I felt like shit. Now, I really wanted to commit suicide. People say it’s just the withdrawal process and that it will get better as time goes on. But it doesn’t, it gets worse. It’s like telling a lion to give up hunting and eating meat and become a vegetarian. Drugs like sex give instant pleasure and gratification, the euphoric results are immediate. But in the normal day to day life, there are no instant pleasures. Life is just a slow grind, a monotonous wheel that just keeps turning with no excitement, no adventure and no pleasure. The opposite is what drugs gave me.
I, for once, have seen both sides of the drug culture. It’s horrific tragedy which befell on me when my dad was murdered, the subsequent social outcast that I became. At the same time, I have enjoyed the highs too whether it was dancing for four days in a rave party in Goa on new year’s, having sex with a total stranger high on ecstasy or just smoking away with the sadhus and aghodis in the mountain abode of lord Shiva.
You need to open up with your kids and form a dialogue. Debate with them and show them the devastation drugs can cause by giving examples. Only take your kid to the rehab when he or she asks for help. Otherwise, they will just resist the rehab process. Tell them that it’s against the law but that’s a waste of time. Kids do drugs exactly because they are against the law.
You need someone on the inside, someone who is into drugs and enjoys it the same way your kid has started to enjoy it. Now, if this insider can form a bond with the kid, he can slowly manipulate the subject into having a hard thought about his drug habit and his current friends and environment. I know for one that drug friends are only drug friends. No one comes to your aid when you are in trouble. When I was going through my bad times and being interrogated by the police for my father’s murder, only those friends came for my help and support, who were not into drugs. All my drug friends stayed away and kept a distance from me. They were scared that they would get into trouble by associating with me. So, you have to show the kid that the drug culture itself is a hollow one with hollow friends and a hollow sense of bravado.
Yes, a drug counsellor has to be someone with a lot of personal drug experience otherwise the counselling will fail as the subject will get more stubborn and resist the treatment. Parents will at first try to hide their children’s habits from the world at large. I mean, people judge you all the time but with a joint in your hand, you are just giving society easy fodder to screw you. Parents have to be counselled first before you move to treating the kids. When they overcome the shock, you can move to the subject. A lot of patients try to deal with the problem internally and most of the time, they lack the experience as they do not know how to handle the issue unless they have been dope smokers themselves. Well, my parents were not and they reacted the same way any normal parent would, with tears and shock and shame. Now all the people involved in getting me drug-free were non-users. They had no clue what a joint of hash tasted like or the pleasure of jerking off on cocaine. To me, they just looked like idiots trying to stop me from doing something that I enjoyed so much. I felt like telling them “Man, you should try acid once in a while. You will forget all your therapies.” I was injected, stomach washed, brain mapped and even taken backwards in age through regression therapies. It was relentless but I just didn’t agree with them, they were outsiders they were not one of me. I insist on drug counsellors being people who have prior drug experience. Only then will the therapies work as the patient will not show resistance.
It took a tragedy in my life to take me away from drugs. Let not that happen in your life because then, it will be too late. This approach is a better one and can give quicker and more fruitful results. It’s the high you always miss but if you can trade that high for something that gives you an equal high but in a positive direction like adventure sports, running, scuba diving or just a new hobby that will give you satisfaction and take your mind away, that too would help.
All said and done, drugs will remain in our society and will always be an issue. But don’t let a tragedy happen in your life to finally wake you up. Wake up on your own accord before it’s too late and you have to regret it for the rest of your life.
Call Anuj Tikku for any further advice: +91-9650799479