‘Hash’tag Himachal: How this beautiful mountain state turned into a narcotics den

In November 2010, a team of around 40 officials from CID and Himachal police raided the Malana village and other surrounding areas in the Parbati valley of Himachal Pradesh, arresting an Italian man in his sixties named Galeno Orazi in the process.

Lack of an alternate development model, lure of easy money and arrival of unscrupulous foreigners have made the beautiful mountain state of Himachal Pradesh into a drug den. Image courtesy: OP Sharma

Orazi was arrested from a house in Nerang forest, where he had been staying for several years in direct violation of many legal norms. According to the police, his visa had expired a year before his arrest.

The house was stacked with large quantities of ganja (marijuana). Orazi, in every respect, looked like a native of Malana – with a long beard and wearing the traditional attire of the area.

For the 12-13 years that Orazi stayed in Malana, he was involved in the production and trade of cannabis with the active connivance of the village people, who find easy money in the production of illicit drugs.

The hill state, with its snow-capped mountains and clean air, has always been a preferred destination for the city dwellers.

Malana and Kasol have been preferred destinations for Israeli youth, who visit the place in huge numbers, after their mandatory service in the army, for a therapeutic experience.

However, the therapy is not provided by the peaceful environs of the mountains but with something for which Malana is now known the world over: Malana Cream, a local variety of hashish; a purified resinous extract of cannabis, highly valued in the international market.

Cannabis has always been grown in this area, but was meant for personal consumption and has great level of social acceptance. The local culture, which is guided to a great extent by belief in ‘devta’ (almost every village in Himachal has their own local deities and all major decisions are taken with their permission), treats cannabis as ‘shiv ji ki buti’ and does not see cannabis production as something wrong.

Charas/hashish production trends (HP)

The problem, however, started with the commercialisation of the production and the entry of foreigners. The locals, who were attracted by the prospects of big money, started producing cannabis and trading it in connivance with the foreigners.

“Earlier, local varieties of cannabis were produced but now hybrid varieties are being grown with the help of foreigners. It is not for personal consumption, rather for trade.”

Regions that are indentified as important for the illicit cultivation of cannabis in Kullu include Malana and Manikaran, Tosh-kutla Regions, Banjar Valley, and the Sainj Valley in the Aani-Khanag Region. In Mandi district, areas where cannabis cultivation is widespread is Chauhar Bali Chowki  (Thachi and Dider  Jhamach), and the Gada Goshaini (Siraj Region) contiguous with Banjar Valley.

Area vs total yield from the year 2003-16 (HP)

While the cases registered increased over the years, conviction rates under the NDPS act have been abysmally low. In 2005, the percentage of conviction of those arrested under the NDPS law was 32 percent, which fell to 28.20 percent in 2015.

Conviction rate under the NDPS act from 2005-15 (HP)

mountain state turned into a narcotics den

In November 2010, a team of around 40 officials from CID and Himachal police raided the Malana village and other surrounding areas in the Parbati valley of Himachal Pradesh, arresting an Italian man in his sixties named Galeno Orazi in the process.

Lack of an alternate development model, lure of easy money and arrival of unscrupulous foreigners have made the beautiful mountain state of Himachal Pradesh into a drug den. Image courtesy: OP Sharma

Orazi was arrested from a house in Nerang forest, where he had been staying for several years in direct violation of many legal norms. According to the police, his visa had expired a year before his arrest.

The house was stacked with large quantities of ganja (marijuana). Orazi, in every respect, looked like a native of Malana – with a long beard and wearing the traditional attire of the area.

For the 12-13 years that Orazi stayed in Malana, he was involved in the production and trade of cannabis with the active connivance of the village people, who find easy money in the production of illicit drugs.

The hill state, with its snow-capped mountains and clean air, has always been a preferred destination for the city dwellers.

Malana and Kasol have been preferred destinations for Israeli youth, who visit the place in huge numbers, after their mandatory service in the army, for a therapeutic experience.

However, the therapy is not provided by the peaceful environs of the mountains but with something for which Malana is now known the world over: Malana Cream, a local variety of hashish; a purified resinous extract of cannabis, highly valued in the international market.

Cannabis has always been grown in this area, but was meant for personal consumption and has great level of social acceptance. The local culture, which is guided to a great extent by belief in ‘devta’ (almost every village in Himachal has their own local deities and all major decisions are taken with their permission), treats cannabis as ‘shiv ji ki buti’ and does not see cannabis production as something wrong.

Charas/hashish production trends (HP)

The problem, however, started with the commercialisation of the production and the entry of foreigners. The locals, who were attracted by the prospects of big money, started producing cannabis and trading it in connivance with the foreigners.

Ashok Kumar, SP Narcotics, stressing on this point said, “Earlier, local varieties of cannabis were produced but now hybrid varieties are being grown with the help of foreigners. It is not for personal consumption, rather for trade.”

Regions that are indentified as important for the illicit cultivation of cannabis in Kullu include Malana and Manikaran, Tosh-kutla Regions, Banjar Valley, and the Sainj Valley in the Aani-Khanag Region. In Mandi district, areas where cannabis cultivation is widespread is Chauhar Bali Chowki  (Thachi and Dider  Jhamach), and the Gada Goshaini (Siraj Region) contiguous with Banjar Valley.

Area vs total yield from the year 2003-16 (HP)

OP Sharma, former superintendent of narcotics control bureau (NCB) Chandigarh and currently posted as Sr. Superintendent (Preventive) of Central Excise & Service Tax, Shimla feels that drug problem in Himachal Pradesh has three aspects: (1) Illicit cultivation of cannabis and opium poppy: the production of respective narcotic drugs thereof (2) the illicit trafficking of the drugs so produced, i.e. the supplies to inter-state and international destinations (3) the drug consumption, i.e. the market within the state and outside.

The cultivation in turn can be categorised in two parts – the organised cultivation on private lands and government/ forest lands, and the unchecked wild growth of cannabis.

According to Sharma, it is the organised cultivation that is of utmost concern. The extent of organisation of the cannabis and opium cultivation can be gauged by this picture taken by Sharma which he shared with Firstpost.

The extent of the problem

The number of cases registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in Himachal Pradesh has more than tripled in last decade. 242 people were arrested in 2005 under the NDPS law, which rose to 596 in 2010 and to 622 in 2015.

Total number of cases registered under the NDPS act 2005-15 (HP)

While the cases registered increased over the years, conviction rates under the NDPS act have been abysmally low. In 2005, the percentage of conviction of those arrested under the NDPS law was 32 percent, which fell to 28.20 percent in 2015.

Conviction rate under the NDPS act from 2005-15 (HP)

“We have to think about why conviction rate is so less,” Kumar said.

Looking at the profile of those arrested in Kullu, Chamba and Mandi shows that while majority of them are residents of Himachal, 23 percent are outsiders and 47 percent of those arrested fall in the age group of 20-30.

To discuss the different aspects of the drug problem in Himachal Pradesh, a three day conference starting 18 April was held in the state.  It was focused on the problem of illicit cultivation, trade and consumption of cannabis and other drugs and was organised by the Institute for Narcotics Studies and Analysis (INSA) in Kullu.

Going beyond general theorising, the conference brought together all the major stakeholders to deliberate upon the problem of the drug menace in the state and come out with viable solutions.

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, speaking on the issue, acknowledged the problem and said that addiction of any types is injurious and there is no country that has not faced the problem of drug abuse.

“It is a big threat to the country and is destroying the present generation and humanity at large. There is a constant war between people who are trading in drugs and people who want to stop this. We have to stop this at any cost”, said Virbhadra Singh.

He added, “Government cannot do this alone, people have to make immense contribution in curbing this menace. Syndicates involved in this are very powerful but we have to destroy them”.

While the reasons behind the drug problem were deliberated upon, at length, it was a serious attempt to propose a solution that was appreciated by all participants. In this context ‘alternative development’ became the focal point of the discussion.

The discussion on ‘alternative development’ centered around finding viable alternate crops that people engaged in illicit farming of cannabis can be motivated to grow. This can only be made possible if those producing cannabis are assured that their income would not be reduced by switching over to other crops.

Seizure of contraband during last 3 years 2013-15 (HP)

In this context J C Sharma, managing director HP Horticulture Produce, Marketing and Processing Corporation (HPMC), made a presentation where he talked about a project initiated by HPMC in which a new variety of apple will be grown where cannabis is being currently produced.

The new variety of apples will provide 10-12 times higher yields, which have ready markets as currently India is importing huge quantities of apple from various foreign countries.

If implemented, this alternative to cannabis and opium would not only meet the demand of apples in India but would also result in saving of large amounts of foreign exchange.

In the context of ‘alternative development’, Jahan Pesron Jamas of Bombay Hemp Company, instead of proposing an alternative crop, talked about the utility of cannabis plant itself for use in the industry.

He highlighted that hump fibre, being a very strong material, can be used in fabric, ropes, cosmetics, and for medicinal use. However, he also stressed that more research is needed to develop plants that are low on intoxicating content, making their diversion for recreational purpose difficult, but at the same time making them useful for legitimate industrial and medicinal purposes.

Another problem that was discussed by all panelists was the lack of a detailed survey on the extent of the drug problem. The last survey to ascertain the extent of the problem was done in 2001. Lack of coordination among different authorities like police and Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) was also marked as a major problem in dealing with the issue.

Lack of coordination among different agencies and political will are major roadblocks in curbing the menace. OP Sharma, who has travelled to the remotest parts of Himachal to understand the reasons behind the persistence of the drug problem, highlights the important reasons for the persistence of the problem through a case study of Malana.

According to Sharma, cannabis consumption is inherent in the culture and the hilly terrain makes the area almost inaccessible to enforcement agencies, making it a safe haven for drug traders.

 District wise quantity of hash seized from 2004-15 (HP)

The fact that there is lack of proper monitoring of the movements of foreigners by the enforcement agencies is also adding to the problem.

In this context, Puneet Raghu, Himachal Police Service (HPS) referred to two NDPS cases where the passport of the arrested person was already expired but investigating agencies failed to book them under foreigners act.

Echoing the same views Ashok Kumar, SP narcotics said that there is a provision that if someone is arrested for indulging in illegal activities he or she can be blacklisted and barred from entering the country again.

“Usually this is not done but when I was posted in Mandi, we prepared a list of such people and sent it to the ministry of external affairs. I feel that this should be done on a regular basis,” Kumar said.

According to OP Sharma, “drug gangs from over six countries have established their centers in the state, and a few arrests made from this area is a testimony to this fact.”

A strong narcotics cell is the need of the hour but as highlighted by Ashok Kumar, the narcotics cell in the state is ‘toothless’ and is struggling with limited manpower and infrastructure.

Then there are also some “vested interests in politics pleading for legalisation of cannabis”.

“The Legislative Assembly mooted such proposals to the government of India from time to time, thus, somehow strengthening the drug managers”, said OP Sharma.

According to Sharma, in the year 2002-03, not even a single inch of land in Malana was free from cannabis. “The illicit trade brought prosperity to 200 families, and these foreigners are their new gods/role models. This shows why the villagers are not able to give up the cannabis cultivation,” Sharma said.

Statistical Data showing Scale of Cannabis Cultivation vis-à-vis Hashish Production In Malana

The drug mafias have so deeply penetrated into the local life that now villagers are using religion and faith to promote the interest of the drug peddlers.

“The powerful village council has become a tool in the hands of the mafia. The dependence on drugs is so strong that these people are not ready to see its ill effects,” said Sharma.

In the short run, it is a win-win situation for all. The backpackers dancing madly on the full moon nights get their dose of adrenaline rush – cheap and handy in these places. The cultivators and traders getting easy money to buy the material comforts from which many of their customers have run away from.

For some of the law enforcers, drug trade allows some extra income that apple production will not. As for loss, it is only of the nation that is losing a generation to drugs.

Malana Cream: An International Hit

– Malana is the producer of the second best quality of hash in the world
– Brands like Malana cream, Malana gold, Malana biscuits and AK-47 are international brands available for sale in Europe and other International destinations ONLY.
– The 155 Kg hashish seizure from the foreign kingpin and his Indian counterpart is testimony to this fact.The foreign mafias with their Indian counterparts and official channels have made most of the profits from the Malana sale.
– More than 60% of the village population still remains under poverty, mostly under abject poverty.
– The Malana brands are so popular in foreign markets that even the Nepalese hashish is making entry into Kullu and being exported under the brand names of Malana Cream after processing.

Advertisements

CASE STUDY :- Priya , a cocaine and alcohol ex-consumer

What is Cocaine :- Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug made from the leaves of the coca plant native to South America.
What is Alcoholism :- A chronic disease characterised by uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol.
CASE STUDY :- Priya , a cocaine and alcohol ex-consumer
Last week, Priya entered the inpatient treatment program where you are a social worker. She is being treated for alcohol and cocaine (crack) dependence. Priya is a 32-year-old, divorced woman who is employed as an administrative assistant at a local human services program. She lives with her 11-year-old daughter, lily , in an apartment located near her job. Although she makes a relatively low salary, Priya has managed to support herself and her daughter without financial support from lily’s father. Priya was married briefly to lily’s father when she was 20, but she left him after he became physically and sexually abusive toward her. He also was an alcoholic. She had almost no contact with him for many years. Her mother, a widow, is a strong support for Priya and lily, as are two cousins, Denise and Moira. Priya reports growing up in a “normal middle class family” and states that her childhood was “good” despite her father’s occasional drinking binges, which she says were related to him celebrating a special account he had landed (he was in advertising), and her mother’s “occasional bad depressions.” She is the youngest of five children and the only girl.
Up until a month ago, Priya was regularly attending twice-weekly treatment sessions at an outpatient chemical dependency clinic, and she went to AA/NA regularly 3 times a week. She had a sponsor and they kept in touch several times a week-more, if needed. From the beginning of recovery, Priya has experienced some mild depression. She describes having little pleasure in life and feeling tired and “dragging” all of the time. Priya reports that her difficulty in standing up for herself with her boss at work is a constant stressor. She persisted with treatment and AA/NA, but has seen no major improvement in how she feels.
After Priya had been sober for about 3 months, an older boy sexually assaulted lily after school. Priya supported lily through the prosecution process; the case was tried in juvenile court and the boy returned to school 2 months later.
After Priya celebrated her 6-month sobriety anniversary, she reports that she started having a harder time getting herself up each day. Around this same time, she returned to drinking daily. She says that she then started experiencing bouts of feeling worthless, sad, guilty, hopeless, and very anxious. Her sleep problems increased, she began having nightmares, and she lost her appetite. After a month of this, she started attending AA/NA and treatment less often, instead staying home and watching TV. She started her crack use again one night after her boss got very upset with her not finishing something on time. She went to a local bar after work that day and hooked up with a guy she met there to get crack. In accompanying him to a local dealer’s house to get some crack, she was raped by several men. Priya did not return home that night (lily was at a friend’s sleepover party) and did not show up for work the next day. She does not recall where she was the rest of that night. However, later that day she admitted herself to your treatment program.
Priya reports that she began drinking regularly (several times a week) around the age of 13. She recalls having felt depressed around the same time that she began drinking heavily, although she states she has very few clear memories of that time in her life. Priya’s drinking became progressively worse over the years, although she did not begin to see it as a problem
until after she began using crack, at around age 28. She reports feeling depressed over much of her adult life, however her depression got much worse after she began using crack daily.
Priya reports having had a lot of gynecological problems during her 20s, resulting in a hysterectomy at age 27. When asked if she was ever physically or sexually abused as a child, she says no; however, she confesses (with some difficulty) that when she was 11, she had an affair with her 35-year-old uncle (father’s brother-in-law).
Now, one week into treatment, Priya reports feeling numb and tense. She talks only in women’s treatment groups and, then, only when specifically asked a question. She feels hopeless about her ability to put her life together and says that she only sees herself failing again to achieve sobriety. Of her recent rape, she says that she “only got what she deserved” for being in the wrong place with the wrong people at the wrong time. Priya reflects that she was unable to adequately protect her daughter from sexual assault, and she speculates that maybe she is an unfit mother and should give up custody of her daughter. While lily is currently staying with Priya’s mother, Priya is concerned that her ex-husband will try to get custody of lily if he hears that she is in the hospital for alcohol and drug treatment. He has been in recovery himself for two years and began demanding to see lily again about 2 months ago.
If anyone faces the same problem as Priya’s substance abuse, once should :-
1. Identify and sort through the relevant facts presented by Priya .

2. Identify the problems, issues, and concerns that arise with Priya’s situation.

2a. What are the most pressing issues that Priya should be encouraged to assess and address?

3. Identify the positive and strengths aspects of Priya’s situation.

4. Analyze the issues in terms of knowledge presented in the training modules.

5. Use training materials to develop a list of options and an initial plan of action for social work intervention with Priya . Who should be involved in the intervention for Priya ? Who should also be referred for intervention?

6. Identify any additional information, research knowledge, and resources that are needed to develop and select options; identify ways to gather what you need; gather what you can.

7. Develop a strategy for social work practice with Priya . Be sure that you have a concrete and specific strategy for how you would address alcohol issues. What are the intervention goals? Following inpatient treatment, what kinds of referrals in your practice community would you make and why?

8. Identify methods for evaluating outcomes of your plan and next steps/revisions of the plan, depending on various possible outcomes.

9. Discuss implications for community intervention, prevention planning, social policy reform, and advocacy that are associated with Priya’s situation.
If the following is taken into consideration and active steps are taken before the problem goes too deep, one can avert a lot of crises at an early hour.

– Deeksha Khatri

Case Study: Marijuana

Marijuana use carries some of the same risks as alcohol use, such as an increased risk of accidents, dependence and psychosis, he said.

It’s likely that middle-age people who smoke marijuana regularly are at an increased risk of experiencing a heart attack, according to the report. However, the drug’s “effects on respiratory function and respiratory cancer remain unclear, because most cannabis smokers have smoked or still smoke tobacco,” Hall wrote in the review.

Regular cannabis users also double their risk of experiencing psychotic symptoms and disorders such as disordered thinking, hallucinations and delusions — from about seven in 1,000 cases among nonusers to 14 in 1,000 among regular marijuana users, the review said. And, in a study of more than 50,000 young men in Sweden, those who had used marijuana 10 or more times by age 18 were about two times more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia within the next 15 years than those who had not used the drug.

Critics argue that other variables besides marijuana use may be at work in the increased risk of mental health problems, and that it’s possible that people with mental health problems are more likely to use marijuana to begin with, Hall wrote in the review.

However, other studies have since attempted to sort out the findings, he wrote, citing a 27-year follow-up of the Swedish cohort, in which researchers found “a dose–response relationship between frequency of cannabis use at age 18 and risk of schizophrenia during the whole follow-up period.”

In the same study, the investigators estimated that 13 percent of schizophrenia cases diagnosed in the study “could be averted if all cannabis use had been prevented in the cohort,” Hall reported.

As for the effects of cannabis use in pregnant women, the drug may slightly reduce the birth weight of the baby, according to the review.

Like it or not, your kids will probably try marijuana. So will their friends. Canadian teens are more than twice as likely as adults to smoke pot – and have the highest rate of cannabis use in the developed world. Marijuana has become as much a part of Canada’s youth culture as hockey or Katy Perry.

Fully 28 per cent of Canadian children aged 11 to 15 admitted to using cannabis at least once in the past year (compared to 23 per cent in the United States, where pot is legal in the states of Colorado and Washington, and 17 per cent in the weed-friendly Netherlands), a 2013 United Nations Children’s Fund study found. As much as 5 per cent of Canadian adolescents – and as much as 10 per cent of Grade 12 students – smoke pot every day, according to the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse.

Canada’s youth are not only top consumers of the world’s most widely used illicit drug – they are also lab rats for the most potent bud the world has ever known. The pot smoked at Woodstock in 1969 contained about 1 per cent of the psychoactive ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol. It was mere shrubbery compared to today’s street-grade marijuana, which typically has THC concentrations of at least 10 per cent, but may contain upwards of 30 per cent, according to Health Canada.

As Canadian youth take advantage of easy access to the street drug, despite law-enforcement efforts, pot’s reputation as “nature’s medicine” continues to grow, fuelling the debate over whether to decriminalize or legalize recreational marijuana use. Legalization is shaping up as a key election issue. Just last week, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto declared criminalization a failure at “preventing or reducing harms associated with cannabis use” – prompting support from Bill Blair, chief of police of Canada’s biggest city.

Politicians are staking out ground on marijuana, with the Liberals championing legalization and regulation, the NDP favouring decriminalization and the Conservatives holding the line on enforcement. But do Canadians actually know how the drug affects our most prolific users? For tweens and teens, whose brains are in a crucial stage of development, is there such thing as a harmless pot habit?

To determine what science has to say about the effects of high-octane pot on the developing brain, The Globe interviewed top researchers in the field and combed through dozens of peer-reviewed studies, taking reasoned critiques into account. Here are some key ways cannabis use could affect your child’s brain.

While cannabis is not the most dangerous of drugs, as with alcohol “it has a lot of harmful effects,” said Dr. Harold Kalant, a professor of pharmacology at the University of Toronto who has conducted research on alcohol and cannabis since 1959.

Marijuana hijacks normal brain functioning in teens, and many scientists believe the drug may have permanent effects on brain development.

Dr. Andra Smith, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Ottawa, used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare brain activity in youth ages 19 to 21 who did not smoke pot regularly, and those who had smoked at least one joint a week for three years or more. Urine samples confirmed their cannabis use.

In a series of published studies, Smith assessed the youth’s executive functioning – the umbrella term for mental processes involved in organizing, decision-making, planning and meeting long-term goals.

Smith and colleagues found increased brain activity in the regular pot smokers as they completed tasks designed to measure impulsivity, working memory, visual-spatial processing and sustained attention.

While increased brain activity may sound like a good thing, “it is actually interpreted as having to work harder, having to engage more brain resources to respond accurately,” Smith said.

The youth were drawn from the Ottawa Prenatal Prospective Study, which has followed them from before birth to age 25 to 30. Researchers collected about 4,000 lifestyle variables, including socio-economic status and prenatal exposure to marijuana and alcohol, as well as teenage cannabis use.

Marijuana was the most likely culprit for the increased brain activity, Smith said.

Earlier studies on rats, conducted by Kalant in the 1980s, suggest cognitive deficits linked to cannabis use may be long-term. Even after the equivalent of nine human years without marijuana exposure, rats given marijuana extract in adolescence showed residual mental deficits in learning and memory that persisted into adulthood. But rats given marijuana extract as young adults did not develop long-lasting impairments, Kalant said, adding that the cannabis receptors in the brains of humans and rodents work “in very similar ways.”

A more recent study, published in April in the Journal of Neuroscience, found structural changes in the brains of 18- to 25-year-olds who smoked pot at least once per week, compared to those of youth with little to no history of marijuana use.

Using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers from Northwestern University detected alterations in brain regions involved in emotion and reward processing. The heavier the marijuana use, the greater the abnormalities in both brain regions, they found.

“This study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences,” the researchers wrote.

A large crowd filled Dundas Square in Toronto as pot smokers gathered on April 20, 2011. (Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

A BLOW TO INTELLIGENCE

Adolescents with a “wake-and-bake” habit risk permanent losses in IQ. While marijuana activists can probably list examples of teen potheads turned successful lawyers, it’s tough to argue with the findings from a long-term study conducted in the New Zealand city of Dunedin.

The ongoing study has followed 1,037 people born in Dunedin during 1972-73, from birth to their early 40s.

In a 2012 report, researchers from Duke University analyzed data from Dunedin and found that the earlier and more frequently a person smoked pot, the greater the loss of intelligence by age 38. Compared to their IQs measured at age 13, people who had started using cannabis as teens and maintained a daily pot habit into adulthood had, on average, a six-point drop in IQ. The decline was not trivial: By age 38, their average IQ was below that of 70 per cent of their peers, according to the report, published in the journal PNAS.

Individuals who began using cannabis heavily as adults did not show similar losses in IQ, but quitting pot did not seem to restore intellectual functioning in those who had been chronic pot users as teenagers, the researchers found.

Critics of the research suggested personality differences could explain the link between cannabis and IQ, since less conscientious people may be more drawn to cannabis – and more likely to perform poorly on intelligence tests. Others argued the drops in IQ were mainly due to socio-economic factors.

But the researchers rebutted each point, noting that they had measured childhood self-control – a precursor of conscientiousness – and had ruled out a range of factors other than marijuana use, including tobacco and alcohol use, schizophrenia and education levels. To account for socio-economic factors, they had conducted a separate analysis excluding participants from both low- and high-income families.

Even after crunching the numbers again and again, the researchers found the association between persistent cannabis use and IQ decline “remained unaltered,” they wrote.

The cannabis-psychosis link has long been a chicken-or-egg question, since people with schizophrenia are known to self-medicate by smoking pot. (Kevin Frayer/The Canadian Press)

RISK OF PSYCHOSIS

Teens smoke pot for its mild hallucinogenic effects, but in some cases, cannabis may trigger a more serious break from reality.

The cannabis-psychosis link has long been a chicken-or-egg question, since people with schizophrenia are known to self-medicate by smoking pot. One in four schizophrenia patients is diagnosed with a cannabis-use disorder, according to a 2010 review.

Nevertheless, the case that marijuana may provoke psychosis in adolescents with genetic vulnerabilities has grown stronger in recent years.

In 2002, researchers using data from the Dunedin study found that cannabis use in adolescence significantly increased the likelihood of schizophrenia in adulthood, especially in individuals who had used the drug by age 15. In this study, published in BMJ, the link remained even after the researchers looked at whether participants had psychotic symptoms at age 11 – before they started using drugs.

The research confirmed the results of an earlier Swedish study showing that heavy cannabis use at age 18 increased the risk of later schizophrenia sixfold. Studies in the Netherlands and Germany had similar findings.

Scientists say it is still unclear whether marijuana use leads to alterations in brain regions associated with hallucinations, or whether cannabis precipitates psychosis in people with genetic abnormalities. Another theory is that the cannabis-psychosis link is due to an overlap of genetic and environmental factors, such as child abuse and easy access to drugs.

But the idea that marijuana’s role in schizophrenia is mainly a phenomenon of self-medication “has been largely eliminated,” according to a 2014 review published in the journal Addiction.

Another major review, published this month in the same journal, estimated that the risk of developing psychosis doubles from about 7 in 1,000 for non-cannabis users to 14 in 1,000 among regular users.

With the Colorado state capitol building visible in the background, partygoers dance and smoke pot on the first of two days at the annual 4/20 marijuana festival in Denver, Saturday April 19, 2014. (Brennan Linsley/Associated Press)

A HAZY FUTURE?

Teens who smoke pot daily are 60 per cent less likely to finish high school or get a university degree than their weed-free peers, according to a high-profile study published in September in the Lancet.

The researchers, mainly from Australia, looked at outcomes from three long-term studies conducted in Australia and New Zealand. They compared participants’ life status at age 30 to their patterns of marijuana use before age 17 (never, less than monthly, monthly or more, weekly or more, or daily).

Compared to people who had never used cannabis, those who were daily users before age 17 had an 18-times greater chance of becoming cannabis dependent. They were eight times more likely to use other illicit drugs in adulthood, and seven times more likely to attempt suicide.

But critics suggested that other variables, such as teachers’ disapproval of pot-smoking students, could have influenced education levels. Others pointed out users may have had drug convictions that affected entry into universities.

Nevertheless, the Lancet study was widely praised for ruling out more than 50 factors other than marijuana use that might explain the results, and for demonstrating a dose response, meaning that the negative outcomes worsened with increased cannabis use. The researchers noted that previous studies published in 1998 and 2000 had shown similar findings.

“Prevention or delay of cannabis use in adolescence is likely to have broad health and social benefits,” they concluded.

Smith echoed that idea: “I don’t really care if you smoke at 35,” she said, “but don’t do it when you’re 13 because you’re just setting yourself up for failure.”

Every day, India sees 10 suicides related to drug abuse– and only one of them is from Punjab

hwuiedjksmdx

Even though its state government finds it hard to address or even accept it, that Punjab has a drug abuse problem is widely known. However, recent government data shows that this is not limited to the North Indian state.

Data tabled before the Rajya Sabha on Thursday during the ongoing Monsoon session of the Parliament showed that India records about 10 suicides due to drug or alcohol addiction. The data, provided by the National Crime Records Bureau, showed that the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala are at the top of the table of drug-related suicides.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, there were 3,647 such suicide cases in India in 2014, of which Maharashtra reported the highest, at 1,372. This was followed by Tamil Nadu, with 552 cases and Kerala, with 475.

Punjab reported 38 such cases. However, as calculations by Scroll.in show, the incidence of drug-related suicides – the number of cases divided by the population – in the state was much lower than the national average.

dddddddddddddddddddddddddd

State of states

As the chart shows, this comes to about 1.4 suicides per million people, based on the population of Punjab as per the 2011 Census. In comparison, the national average is three suicides per million of the population. The drug-related suicide rate in Kerala, for instance, is at least 10 times as high as in Punjab.

Meanwhile, the Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands stands out as an outlier with almost 37 such instances in a population of just about three lakh.

Calculations show that though Maharashtra may have reported the highest number of drug-related suicides in the country, Kerala topped the list in terms of incidence rate.

Additionally, at least 12 states and Union Territories had a higher incidence of these cases than the national average. These include Haryana, Telangana, Mizoram and Tripura. The national capital of Delhi, however, reported only 2 cases per million people.

wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww

Not the whole story

In a silver lining of sorts, the number of drug-related suicides in India in 2014, though still high, had reduced since 2012 and 2013. There were more than 4,000 cases in 2012 and in the subsequent year, it shot up to 4,500. More than 25,000 people committed suicides due to drug abuse in the 10-year period between 2004 and 2013, according to National Crime Records Bureau. A study by the United Nations estimated that drug abuse killed more than two lakh people in the world in 2014.

The National Crime Records Bureau data, however, doesn’t reflect the prevalence of drug abuse in the country. It only compiles suicides that were reported to the police and where the cause was established as drug or alcohol abuse. The actual number of deaths due to abuse is estimated to be much higher. And the number of drug users will be several times more.

It also doesn’t take away from the gravity of the drug use problem in Punjab, one that the state government has vehemently tried to downplay or deny. In a recent video campaign, the Shiromani Akali Dal–Bharatiya Janata Party combine tried to dispel concerns about it by having the hockey captain claim it doesn’t exist.

The state is also seeing resistance from its own officials in implementing a scientific programme to reduce drug abuse even as official surveys have shown that there are more than 10 lakh drug addicts in the state. According to a report in the Times of India, officials said the state’s image will take a hit if the project moves ahead and “criticism from outside” is holding up the implementation of the programme.

– Chhavi Goel

Case Study- http://www.google.co.in/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjt47_qtO3SAhVJrY8KHYbMD-AQFggbMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.indiaspend.com%2Fcover-story%2Fpunjab-drug-addiction-16-or-as-dy-cm-says-0-06-86253&usg=AFQjCNFCWoWhb7_7W7vDt3DrijyUegXQEQ

Sniffing and Snorting Dangers?

The variety of substances that are abused on a daily basis could surprise many. While drugs – both illegal and prescription – are often abused, as well as alcohol, there are a number of other substances that have made their mark.  The murky world of substance abuse that is no longer restricted to cocaine, marijuana, heroin, Ecstasy and the like. Concern over this disturbing trend is growing as many children are suffering the inevitable health consequences of these habits. The frightening part is that the kids don’t realize that these seemingly innocuous habits damage the health as much as smoking marijuana and doing cocaine

For one Indian boy, that substance is whitener ink. At lunch break every day, the student doesn’t open his tiffin box. Instead, he rushes to the fields behind his school somewhere and vigorously sniffs his handkerchief to get high on the whitener he has poured into it.

The dark truth about whiteners is that this slow poison is a stationery product available ubiquitously for just Rs.27 for 15ml. Shops close to school campuses stock whiteners. There’s no control over the sale of whiteners as it is not a drug under the purview of the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act. Whitener is abused as an inhalant in India. Whitener exerts its effects through trichloroethane, a volatile solvent. Inhalants include other substances such as petrol and toluene. These substances are cheap, accessible and readily available to children and adolescents. 

Inhalants are volatile (easily evaporated at normal temperatures) substances that produce chemical vapors that can be inhaled to induce a psychoactive, or mind-altering, effect. People from both urban and rural settings abuse inhalants

Young people abuse volatile solvents by deliberately inhaling available vapours 15–20 times over 10-15 minutes.

Inhaled organic solvents like toluene cross from the blood into the brain within minutes. In the brain cells, solvents act on specific receptors to produce effects similar to those of alcohol. Toluene is a common solvent in thinner and paint. Toluene enhances dopamine release.

Multiple Gateways to The Harm-

Inhalants can be breathed in through the nose or the mouth in a variety of ways, such as—

  • “sniffing” or “snorting” fumes from containers;
  • spraying aerosols directly into the nose or mouth;
  • “bagging” — sniffing or inhaling fumes from substances sprayed or deposited inside a plastic or paper bag;
  • “huffing” from an inhalant-soaked rag stuffed in the mouth; and
  • inhaling from balloons filled with nitrous oxide.

 

The Hazardous and The Hazards –

Common household items that are used as inhalants and are extremely dangerous include:

  • Nail polish remover
  • Canned air
  • Rubber cement
  • Spray paint
  • Paint thinners
  • Felt-tip markers
  • Air fresheners
  • Butane
  • Cooking spray
  • Whipped cream cartridges or cans

Continue reading

Highway To Hell

“The intellect, potential and existing abilities: all is watered away when a person succumbs to drug abuse.”

Drug abuse is on the rise and ceases to leave the lifestyles of youngsters as it is deep embedded in our social system and is hence carried forward from generation to generation like an ancient tradition. The causes of its existence are sowed in ignorance because of which uprooting the problem becomes a not so easy task. The most common form of drug abuse that is observed in today’s India is alcohol addiction, consumption of cannabis etc. The following are the grave causes for this rising substance abuse-

  • Becoming a part of culture- 

Culture is very close to the hearts of people and anything cultural is clung to closely by people. A culture is the soul of any human society. The way people meet, greet and do things is all what culture is. It includes the practices that a group of people relate with themselves as a part of their lifestyle. Alcohol is a habit among people because it has its history in culture. So does hookah, beedi and others. The men of the household used to smoke pot and consume alcoholic mixtures. In some areas, even women consumed these substances. Family functions and joyous occasions were incomplete without them. This was the scenario in rural India and has transcended to the growing metropolitans rapidly. The young generation also has get-togethers around a table where they are drinking or smoking. Lord shiva himself used to take weed. In India, where the revered deities are worshiped and idealised blindly, people are unable to differentiate right from wrong based on scientific study and facts. Invariably, what is ingrained in culture is hard to get rid of.

  • Aiding the social life of the young- 

The young lot parties and their idea of celebration is incomplete without getting high. Also, when 80% are involved in an activity in any social gathering, the rest 20% are very much bound to also try it. Getting wasted has also become a way to relieve boredom. Youngsters feel like it is an exciting thing to do. It has fit into the definition of fun. Friends meet over a round of drinks and can often be found saying that alcohol makes their banter lively or meeting exciting. Young people sometimes use drugs or alcohol to escape from their home, or personal, problems. Friends may suggest that coming out for a night’s drinking or smoking a spliff might help if they’re feeling down. People feel like getting high on a substance can align their thoughts, cool their mind, enable them to perform better and have more fun.

  • Relieving depression and low mood-

People have a lot of problems and confusions to deal with in the middle phase of their life. Sorting career and relationships becomes a source of stress as they feel they have a lot to deal with. Mid life crisis makes people very vulnerable to substance abuse. The temporary alterations that substance abuse does to the chemistry of the brain gives a feeling of comfort. The subconscious mind is elevated to another level and there are experiences of soothing feelings, reduced anxiety and stress, less hesitations and more confidence. Everything that substance abuse causes in its immediate aftermath gives the feeling that it is the perfect solution to all problems even if the long term impact is adverse.


 

These are the popular reasons for which substance abuse is far from diminishing and remains intact as a part of life of people from all walks of life.

– Apoorva Gaba

Drugs take you to Hell, disguised as Heaven… 

-Donald Lynn Frost

If you’re struggling to overcome an addiction, no one needs to tell you it’s tough – you’re living it. Sometimes you could use a few encouraging words to remind you that you’re not in this alone and that, yes, change really is possible.

drug3

How HIGH is your drug test score??

Club drugs are a group of psychoactive drugs. They act on the central nervous system and can cause changes in mood, awareness, and how you act. These drugs are often abused by young adults at all-night dance parties, dance clubs, and bars.

These are the drugs normally classed as club drugs :

  • Ecstasy
  • GHB
  • Ketamine
  • Rohypnol
  • LSD
  • Methamphetamine
  • drug4

 


Preventing the Abuse of Club Drugs

The likelihood that your child will at some point be surrounded by people drinking or using drugs and will be offered drugs is overwhelming. He must know to expect this, he must expect his peers to ridicule him if he refuses the offer to join in and he must know in his heart that he must walk out of this environment if he is to stay sober. He must truly understand the damage that can occur if drugs are abused, all the way up to and including overdose and addiction. Obviously, this information must be shared very gently in the earlier years, with more specific knowledge being offered when the child is in his teens.

One of the most essential messages to send is that both the child’s parents are united in their opposition to any kind of substance abuse until after the child is 21 years of age. This is an important message whether the family all lives in the same household or not. According to the National Center on Drug Addiction and Substance Abuse, if a person can avoid drinking or using drugs until after they turn 21, they are virtually certain to never have a problem with substance abuse.

Club drugs are seldom the first drug a child abuses. A parent may choose to begin educating a child the problems caused by drug abuse in general, then move on to the primary drugs that youth start with – marijuana, alcohol and prescription drugs, and then explain the specific dangers of club drugs. It is most likely that a young person will run into these drugs at parties, music festivals or dance clubs. But if he or she runs around with older youth who are living risky lifestyles, exposure to these dangerous substances may come earlier.

Continue reading