The availability of harmful drugs is a problem with a disproportionate impact on adolescents and presents significant challenges for schools seeking to safeguard students from the physical and psychological damage drug use can cause. Drugs have penetrated in many well-known schools across the country and there are children who double up as peddlers to finance their addiction. “Many school kids who use drugs come to me for counselling sessions as that is the first step to recovery,” says Mumbai-based psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty. “The most commonly used drug is cannabis as it is the cheapest. A 14-year-old boy was brought to me by his parents, who said he had once broken a glass door with his hand. He was a topper and was an excellent sportsperson. I got a urine test done. The parents were shocked on learning that their son was taking drugs. Kids are often spotted socialising with weed (cannabis) after a game of football and cricket. It is mainly the older kids who introduce the younger ones to this habit.”
Alka Kapur, principal of Modern Public School in Delhi’s Shalimar Bagh, says: “We depute teachers around the school premises during arrival and dispersal timings of children, to keep an eye on strangers who might be drug peddlers.” According to Mumbai-based psychologist Seema Hingorrany, kids from dysfunctional and broken families have a “tendency to get addicted to drugs because they feel drugs can numb them to pain and give them entry into a ‘cool’ peer group”. “They eventually get addicted to it. Awareness on the harmful effects of these drugs is important for our teenagers and we need to tell them what drugs do to their body and mind,” she adds.