Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New report on young drug users in Manipur

Waiting to be found: young drug users in Manipur
Chitra Ahanthem
18 February 2009

A new report on young drug users in Manipur called "Children at Risk: Lost in the Haze," has been released by the Childline India Foundation and the Social Awareness Service Organization (SASO) in Imphal.

The report, based on research conducted among 220 children aged under 18 from Imphal East, Imphal West, Churachandpur, Bishnupur, Chandel, Thoubal and Ukhrul, revealed significant levels of drug use.

But drug users who are not yet 18 are not able to access services from treatment clinics and drug-related service providers as the majority of these services are aimed at adult male drug users.

According to Childline’s Dr Abhishek Lakhtakia, the release of the study marked the start of a realization that these issues were not receiving enough attention from programmers and policy makers.

“This is the first step towards drawing attention to the needs of children. We hope that the findings will lead to discussions and translate into steps for advocacy to have existing laws around children be more inclusive of their special needs,” Dr Lakhtakia said during a dissemination workshop.

Many young people are not confident talking about their drug use and Archana Oinam, who took part in the study, said she spoke to one young boy who wanted to stop using drugs but could not ask for help.

“He went to an NGO that was providing services related to drug use on a couple of occasions but went back without seeking any treatment options each time saying that he was not confident of talking about his situation to people he knew and those who were older,” Mongjam said.

About the study:

220 young people from five districts in Manipur took part in the study, which was conducted from November 2007 to March 2008.
182 had tried to stop using drugs. Only 57 sought service-related help through their own personal contacts and NGOs.
63% of the children who took part had used Spasmo Proxyvone during the last month of the study.
57 (or 25.9%) had used heroin with 40 injecting the drug during the last month of the survey.
93 of the children said they sourced drugs from their peers, 85 bought drugs directly from dealers, 22 went to chemists and 20 bought drugs from common stores.