In a troubling development, the youth drug crisis in Sudurpachim is escalating at an alarming rate, marked by a surge in arrests associated with illegal substances and an increasing number of tragic incidents that underscore the severity of the situation.
On November 17, the police arrested Lalbir Chaudhary, 30, from Dhangadhi Sub-Metropolitan City-5, and Pradip Dhovi, 24, from Doti Dipayal Silgadhi Municipality-4 in possession of 2.006 grams of brown sugar.
This arrest follows another incident involving a 61-year-old man, Motilal Bohora, from Bajhang Surma Rural Municipality-2 Dori, who was arrested with 880 grams of hashish in Kailali, Dhangadhi Sub-Metropolitan City-7 Manhera on Sunday night.
A troubling trend is unfolding, illustrated by the recent apprehension of 20-year-old Anit Chowdhury from Godavari Municipality-8 Sripur. He was found in possession of 150 milligrams of illegal brown heroin.
The problem extends beyond mere numbers and arrests, indicating a deeper issue that needs attention.
Last year, a 14-year-old boy from Krishnapur Municipality-2 in Kanchanpur died from a drug overdose. a Now, a 16-year-old from Godawari Municipality finds himself in Kailali District Prison for using brown sugar.
Disturbingly, the data from the District Police Office for the fiscal year 2021/22 reveals a widespread drug abuse problem among teenagers throughout Sudurpaschim province. Kailali and Kanchanpur alone witnessed 335 and 229 arrests, respectively, during this period, meaning about four young people were caught with drugs every day.
Of significant concern is the potential magnitude of the issue, which might surpass the figures documented by police records. Research conducted over the past three years reveals that no village in Kailali and Kanchanpur is exempt from the presence of drug abusers.
The drug abuse epidemic extends beyond urban centres like Dhangadhi and Mahendranagar, as there is compelling evidence of an escalating number of youths in rural areas falling prey to both drug consumption and trafficking.
Highlighting the severity of the issue, local authorities reveal that the number of drug-related arrests in Sudurpaschim this fiscal year has already exceeded the total for the previous year. This increase in arrests is associated with a concerning trend where young individuals are not only falling prey to drug abuse but are also engaging in drug trafficking to support their habits, as corroborated by our own research.
Unchecked activities in the locality
Drawing attention to possible contributing factors, there are concerns about unmonitored activities in local pharmacies and border trade, accompanied by the notion that not all instances are reported to the police.
In Krishnapur, the overdose death of a teenager was deliberately kept confidential to safeguard the family’s reputation. This underscores a multifaceted set of elements influencing the drug crisis, encompassing both reporting gaps and societal pressures affecting transparency.
Efforts have been made by authorities in Sudurpaschim to address the drug abuse issue, including the creation of a team focused on narcotics in partnership with local units and district police offices. However, the challenge remains significant, as there are nine active drug gangs in the province, with members of six in custody.
Authorities in Dadeldhura are expressing caution as they underscore the proliferation of the drug issue in hill districts. In the past, youth from Tarai districts were predominantly involved in drug abuse and sales. However, there has been a noticeable uptick in cases in the hilly areas, indicating a concerning expansion of the problem across diverse geographical regions.
Rehabilitation centres in Kailali and Kanchanpur are overwhelmed, currently housing hundreds of teenagers. However, the repeated pattern of addiction is a big challenge because individuals may go back to using drugs even after spending months in rehabilitation.
Experts, emphasising the importance of a united effort from society, authorities, and the community, highlight the need to create an environment that prevents young people from getting involved in drug abuse. The urgent call for attention and collaborative efforts from all parties is essential to address and diminish the severe impact of the rising youth drug crisis on the future of Sudurpachim.