Bangalore: Drug rehabilitation centres in the city have recorded some shocking changes with regard to the number of narcotic users this year.
Rehabilitation centres recorded a shocking increase in the number of pre-teens seeking help for drug abuse. According to many such centres, 13 is currently the average age of drug abusers in the city, while 16 was the age recorded last year.
"The lifestyle has changed and it is not just BPO employees, but the school children of today who are experimenting with drugs. While the drugs are readily available, peer pressure is one of the major motivators.
Marijuana is cheap and it is the primary substance students start with," said Paul Lobo, Co-founder, Higher Power Foundation. Clinical psychologists are baffled over the number of such cases reaching them.
"On an average, each month we get at least 20 parents seeking help for their school going kids who are addicted to various narcotics," said G Shaila, a psychologist.
Officials of several rehab centres further explained that in the earlier part of this decade, Bangaloreans started experimentation with drugs at the age of 30.
"Our research and experience this year proves that students in the age-group of 16 and 17 are addicts. Their parents are often unaware of their habits, as the reactions to drug abuse is not evident.
One can easily make out when a person has consumed alcohol, but with drugs, especially marijuana - there are no obvious signs of abuse. Three out of every five students have experimented with drugs and become habitual users," said Manoj Dev, trustee, Kripa Revival Centre. Kids today come in with multiple drug abuse issues.
"The problem has been underplayed. Students start experimenting and end up dropping out of school and college. We have dealt with hundreds of such cases this year," Dev added.
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) has recorded a steep increase in the number of school and college kids facing drug abuse at an early age.
"Not just street drugs like weed and heroin, but pharmaceutical drugs that are easily available over the counter are finding takers. What I went through as an addict in my middle age, is happening to students barely older than 12 today," said an anonymous volunteer from NA.
Not the same as before
Rehabilitation centres claim that while 70 per cent of the students in the city are addicted to such drugs, 40 per cent adolescents in their early career are hardcore addicts.
"There is a fine line between being a controlled user and an addict. The former is not dependent on the drug, they can go about their life, manage finances, family and work even while using drugs. For an addict, their life revolves around drugs," said Lobo.
"Children who are burdened at school or who are under stress take this route as an escape. To curb the problem, there has to be a joint initiative from parents and teachers to make life simple and not burden children with stress, which could possibly force them into drug abuse," said another NA volunteer.
Further, with Christmas and New Year approaching, many Bangaloreans head to Goa and other party locations."The actual statistics of drug abuse comes to the forefront at the end of each year.
During this season, prices of all narcotics shoot up. Regular customers bring new customers along with them, who in turn become regulars. This year, even we are surprised that our customers are getting younger," said a peddler from KR Market.
In the bag
A sachet of marijuana, which otherwise costs a mere Rs 100, costs Rs 500 during this season.
"Raw Marijuana that comes in from different parts of South India costs Rs 1,000, as opposed to the usual Rs 500. Ketamine, like every year is in huge demand and prices for Ecstasy have dipped, yet demand has risen," revealed another peddler from Kamannahalli.
Meanwhile, the Narcotics Control Bureau, which recently opened a centre in the city has been gathering data of drug sales and are investigating how the party drugs enter the city.