No action will start from parents unless they are convinced that the problem exists. The attitude that it will not happen to your children may land you in serious trouble one day. When you hear someone’s daughter became a drop-out from school because of drugs, would you only take a sigh of relief that it was not one of your own children? Or would you take some positive action to prevent this trouble entering your home? Please remember accidents do not happen to others only. Must the problem become really serious before measures are thought of to save ourselves from its consequences?
Let us assume that you have armed yourself with all available knowledge about drugs and have taken necessary preventive measures. Chances are that your children would stay clear of drugs. But your protective barrier may not have been very effective. On the other hand, if you have done nothing to prevent your child from being exposed to drug abuse, whatever the reason you may one day have to face the shocking realization that your son or daughter has got involved in drugs. This will no doubt scare you out of your wits.
What should be your reaction and what should you do? You may take pride in your not being easily perturbed but whatever you do, please do not be indifferent towards it and do not brush it aside by saying “It’s a common thing among the young people these days.”
Purely because of its easy availability hashish, ganja or marijuana is the first drug a boy or a girl takes to, and in 90 per cent cases the smoker gets mentally habituated to it. If the parents or the school authorities are alert enough they would notice the tell-tale signs of indulgence in this drug. Please prick your ears up as soon as you notice the following:
(a) Physical idleness, lethargy, lack of interest in sports etc. The smoker gets lazy and untidy. You would notice that his room, bed, wardrobes are left untidy and there in no desire to tidy the room or to do any work to improve his living conditions.
The child who is interested in sports would suddenly lose interest in them. He would look for short cuts and his work will be slipshod.
(b) Fall in academic career: Hash puts the user into a dream would. Therefore he cannot concentrate on books or studies and the academic performance beings declining fast.
(c) Indifferent company: The smoker avoids his good friends who are not hash smokers. He prefers the company of hash smokers. His behavior becomes objectionable and he gets irritated very soon under the influence of hash. He cannot take criticism.
(d) Avoids parents: The hash addict avoids the company of parents and near relations who are interested in his welfare. In fact he or she is happier alone in a room or a lonely place than in the company of people.
(e) Heavy expenditure: Once hooked on hash the pocket money you give your child will not be enough. So to get his drug he would not hesitate to steal. He would become a liar. He would pick up valuables from the house and sell them in order to buy his drugs.
It you notice one or more of the above-mentioned symptoms please take notice. They are definite danger signals.
It is not possible to guarantee that the recommended approach will work in every case. But it is realistic and should show positive results in a minority of the cases. A common reaction in most parents would be of being hopelessly scared, but please do not think all is lost through you are no doubt faced with a very difficult situation. But heavens have not come down yet. Do not think that your child’s life is already ruined. You have not made a full assessment of the severity of the situation. Perhaps it would be better if I tabulated the ‘Don’t’s’ because I feel they are very important at this stage for your morale and for correct and positive action.
(1) Don’t panic. As parents, your duty is to do something to get your child out of the mess he has got himself in. You would be ineffective if you panic. The child would lose confidence in your ability to help and that is disastrous. So please-Stay Calm.
(2) Don’t fly off the handle and start shouting at your child. He knows he is guilty. There is no point in wasting your breath. In any case it would not help in establishing communication which is extremely important.
(3) Don’t manhandle the child. There would be many clever relations and friends who would blame you for being soft. They would advise the same is the answer, but tell them to mind their own business.
(4) Don’t think of kicking him out. Again this would be given to you as the only answer. Throwing the child out would ensure that he goes and seeks solace from his drug-using friends.
(5) Don’t indulge in undue criticism of yourself or each other. That brings a stalemate in the family.
(6) Don’t worry about your status or your reputation. No one is really worried about it except yourself, no one thinks you are bad because your child has fallen into bad company. People who really matter would be only sympathetic and would help you if need be. They are sensible enough to appreciate that if it is you today, tomorrow it may be they.
(7) Don’t think it is a case of complete breakdown of child-parent relationship. Your child may be a victim of bad influences of his addicted friends, it may be just idle curiousity, in which case your child is not as far gone as you fear.
(8) Don’t stop loving your child. If you are bitter and start hating the child, ou have lost the biggest weapon in your armory: LOVE.
(9) Don’t be overzealous in your attempts at detecting drug abuse. The excessively suspicious approach or false accusations may result in alienating the boy who may rebel and start using hard drugs.
(10) I hope it would not be considered out of place if I suggest something about which I have no personal experience. Since my return home nearly six months ago, there has been a very close communication between my father and me. I seem to have found what I was looking for. My father never lost heart although I was a completely gone case. He has told me that the secret of his strength and success is prayer. My father has also asked me to include the recommendation that when you are faced with this crisis, please pray to God for your child’s deliverance from the evil and to give you the strength and sense to act correctly.
Prayer with complete faith would not only provide correct direction but will give you tremendous confidence to fight and avert your crisis. Please remember “Love and Prayer” are a formidable combination and never fail.
In your association with the drug problem, you have recognized it. You have realized that it has effected you. You have taken the emergency actions, negative as wll as positive, to face it. The first action a commander takes in battle when face to face with the enemy is to obtain maximum possible information or knowledge about the enemy. So unless you have already kept yourself up-to-date about drugs please educate yourself. In India there is not enough literature available on the subject because the problem has not yet been fully recognized. Please do not try to seek knowledge from your friends who would pretend to be clever with their sweeping generalizations. Do consult your family doctor by all means but the chances are that he would not add much to what you may hve learnt yourself. An average medical practitioner in India can easily make a hundred rupees a day treating common diseases but be does not have the time, inclination or specialization to handle the intricate and baffling cases of drug addiction that might come to him. So for business he may be nodding his head in agreement with your about the seriousness of the problem, but he is not likely to do or suggest much.
My father was ignorant about drugs. When he realized that I was taking something he consulted friends, teachers, doctors and even psychiatrists. He came across conservative zealots who were for tough action and there were others who advocated lenient approach. Some suggested specialized attention and hospitalization but there were no hospitals which would easily accept a case of drug addiction. He was confused and did not know what to do. In the meantime, my involvement in the harder drugs continued to increase. Still he did not resign to the inevitable and tried to learn more.
Learn to Communicate
What I write here is not from my head. I have gone from library to library and have read about the subject. My father has also read all available literature on drugs. He has helped me by telling about the parents’ involvement in meeting the crisis. Thus the last four chapters of this book have fairly comprehensive information for the benefit of the parents, schools and the society. So if you have read these carefully you will have enough knowledge of the subject to avoid the situation. When your child knows more than you do about drugs, it may be difficult for you. This was the case with my father. I was able to pull wool over his eyes whenever he tried to discuss drugs with me.
Knowledge is not much good if you cannot convey it properly to your child. You may give a formal lecture to your son and he may sit and hear you without listening. So please learn to communicate with your child, however problematic it may be. Take it as a challenge. Your knowledge of the subject and ability to communicate it to your children would ensure that they would approach you for the solution of their problems and for clearing other doubts.
You are now fully qualified to make an assessment of the situation.
Drug users can be divided in the following groups:
(a) Those who are curious because they have heard their friends talk about the interesting effects of smoking hash. Therefore they also want to experiment. If they are caught at this stage they can be kept away from further use.
(b) Those who take drugs as a recreation, i.e., on holidays and picnics, just for “kicks” or to get a little “high.” They are occasional users and can be easily weaned with a little brain-washing.
(c) Those who go for drugs to overcome some emotional problem-like some kind of confusion about sex, loneliness, or other problems of growing up. These are adolescents. In my opinion in India most cases would fall in this category. Lots of love and patience is required to handle these. Answers to these problems may be found in our unhealthy home environment.
(d) Properly handled, such cases may be cured of addiction without outside help. But should you find that you are kaing no headway, please do not hesitate to consult an experienced psychiatrist.
(e) There are hashish or ganja smokers or opium eaters from low income social groups. These are sad cases because their parents are perhaps themselves addicts and in any case neither have the means nor inclination to do anything about it. The society and the government will have to accept the responsibility for helping these hapless people. The main cause in these cases is the tension ridden environment.
(f) Then there are those who use drugs on account of some deep underlying personality problems. These are cases for experts and may require prolonged institutionalized handling. Unfortunately, there are only a few mental hospitals in the country for these people which is a sad commentary on the nation’s attitude to mental health.
(Excerpted from the book, I was a drug addict, by Ravindra Singh)