The recent launch of two programmes by the state government that aim at eliminating drug abuse and rehabilitating abusers has come not a minute too soon. The significance of the twin programmes – DREAM and BUILD – is immense given the increasing drug addiction in the state over the years; DREAM is an acronym for Drug Rehabilitation, Elimination and Action Mission and BUILD is an acronym for Bringing Unity in Locale Against Drugs. Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, who unveiled the two programmes, also mentioned about the state government’s other initiatives that have the potential to keep vulnerable youth from falling prey to the life-threatening menace. Collectively, these initiatives provide a platform to the youth to turn to sports, music and entrepreneurship and thus channelise their potential and talent to constructive activities and stay away from drugs. Quite rightly, he said that once they have a sense of purpose and goal in their lives they will be focused and work towards it instead of resorting to drugs that comes easily in an idle state.

The urgency of the two programmes is borne out by revelation of the police that there are 2.5 lakh drug abusers in the state, according to a nationwide survey carried out by the Union ministry of social justice and empowerment. The state Director General of Police, L R Bishnoi, has also revealed that 4 to 5 cases of domestic violence are reported every day in Shillong alone that are drug-related. The BUILD programme in particular is crucial in such context as it focuses on   bringing unity amongst community stakeholders in the fight against the menace of drugs “For social issues like drug abuse the community is an important stakeholder not only for drug abuse elimination but also for the rehabilitation of abusers,” the chief minister said. It is the community that will have to supplement the work of the government—police, social welfare and health – in this regard.

Tragedy is that nowadays even children who are still in elementary schools succumb to temptation of drugs at the behest of their friends. Stringent laws therefore ought to be strictly enforced and drug peddlers severely dealt with to deter others from joining the trade. Meanwhile, addicts are to be empathised with and their families need not be shy or ashamed at all but extend all possible assistance to them. Most significant in such cases for addicts and family is to admit and not to hide and public too in general should try to understand and not be judgmental.