KATHMANDU, Oct 13: What comes to your mind when someone talks about drug addicts? Obvious images that crop up are unemployed youths, thugs with long hair and ear rings, street children and sex-worker figures. But with changes in socio-economic structures the reality is becoming different from these stereotypes.
The stereotypes are being supplemented by a growing use of drugs among professionals such as doctors, engineers and pilots, who are considered a factor for change in a developing society.
Nima Lama (all names changed), 30, a resident of Mhapi-16 in Kathmandu, is an engineer at a construction company based in New Baneshwor. He was arrested red-handed from Buddhanagar while taking drugs with friends.
Narcotics police involved in his arrest said, “Lama became addicted to drugs when his girlfriend jilted him.”
Another drugs offender was a doctor. Upendra Baral, 37, a resident of Battisputali in Kathmandu, who was arrested near his home, had recently completed his studies in Bangladesh.
According to police, Baral began taking drugs to reduce stress. He admitted to police that he wanted to use drugs only for a short period but he turned into an addict.
The Baral family, which is well to do, has been trying to bring him out of his addiction.
Meanwhile, Abhinash KC, 28, a pilot and former drug addict, began using drugs after completing a course in the Philippines two months ago.
A resident of Dholahiti, Lalitpur, KC was arrested from Mangalbazar while buying Buphrine and Diazepam.
His family was not aware about his addiction until his arrest, and he has been released on a promise to join a rehabilitation centre at the earliest.
These cases of the engineer, the doctor and the pilot are among some that police have encountered in recent weeks and indicate a growing trend that throws up several questions directly related to public safety.
According to Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) at the Narcotic Drugs Control Law Enforcement Unit, Nawa Raj Silwal, drug use has been increasing massively across the country. “The increasing trend of drug use by professionals can jeopardize the public,” he said.
“Public awareness is not enough for handling the situation; it has to be treated at the root causes,” he added. Nurses at private hospitals were also found misusing drugs along with the doctors, according to him.
Basant Kunwar, president of Narconon Nepal, said that there are almost 150,000 drug addicts in Nepal, including professionals like doctors, engineers, pilots and teachers as well as drivers and many students.
Drug abuse or dependence may occur at any age. Though addiction is more common during teenage and adolescence, the growing trend is becoming like an epidemic, according to Kunwar. Most professionals use drugs to minimize stress and gain more with little effort, he added.
According to sociologist Dr Chaitanya Mishra, growing urban society, where one can live individually and free from family, has also encouraged addiction among professionals. To check this trend every family needs to engage with its members as much as possible.
Otherwise, this malady will not only create psycho-social problems but also hinder economic development and ultimately become a cancer that penetrates society and saps the potential of youth, according to sociologists.