It all began in the ancient times when Socrates had to drink hemlock juice. At that time, it was a choice between violent and peaceful death.
The potency was such that it became a political weapon. The Boxer war is a witness to it. It is a historical fact.
While at one time it was an indulgence that the rich pampered themselves with, it somehow became a habit among the general mass. It removed the aches in the body and gave one a sense of general well-being.
That is when the problem began. Or rather the drug industry started sprouting up. Of course, we have heard of the Golden Triangle, somewhere between the then Burma, Thailand and other neighbouring countries, where war lords cultivated hashish to fund procurement of guns and ammunition.
The same thing happened in Afghanistan. As the war raged on, cultivation of poppies was one great agricultural activity that fetched easy money. Of course, every penny earned went in to buy weapons and ammunitions.
Despite the accepted norm among the drug dealers that one should not get high on ones’ supply, yet every one gets high. More than that, it is what floods the market that really causes mass damage.
Now with all the fancy drugs available in the form of pills, most of which actually are only supposed to be prescribed by registered doctors, every one has access to all forms of drugs. And the drugstores or the so-called medical shops are willing to sell them as long as there are buyers. Who bothers about the ethics, if any?
As far as we know, substance abuse in Bhutan was limited to chewing doma, which cost you your teeth and perhaps your taste -buds, but definitely not your sanity.
We were told that illegal drugs, hardcore drugs were not to be found in Bhutan. That the police may have a hard time keeping prescription drugs in check, yet illegal substances did enter the country.
The news reports show that we have greatly underestimated the problem, with heroin use being reported from all the major towns which have better connectivity.
Perhaps we are jaded by the amount of shocking news that our headlines scream every day, because it seems we do not care anymore, even though every issue that plagues us is worse that we originally thought.
BNCA’s report is overdue, but its better late than never. Now that we know the situation is bad, what is needed are extensive long and short term plans. Short term plans should include a crackdown on peddling, rehabilitation facilities for drug users, and massive anti-drug campaigning.
Long term plans would have to involve looking at the whole issue more holistically; recognising that drug abuse is also a problem that has social roots.
The problem goes deeper than some anti-social youth behaving badly. It comes from low self esteem, from hearts that are not healthy and whole.
Perhaps it is asking too much of the government to heal the hearts of the young people. But they need to do what they can. And while we look at the government for every solution, we must also look at our own families, at what our children are doing, why they are doing what they are doing. It is a solution we must all come to collectively.
Perhaps, it is our culture of drinking on social occasions that is the culprit. But why blame the culture. Our forefathers knew when to say no. All we have to do is say NO!