This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Youngsters and Substance Abuse

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Gunveen Chadha:

“Ecstasy is a drug that boys use to mix in girls drink so that the girl does not remember anything that happens at night but only gets to know 9 months later.”

I was shocked when I heard incorrect information being yelled out to me by a 12 year old boy when I was giving only my fourth workshop for the anti-substance abuse campaign. The class of 20 students were always excited to interact with me, they loved to have interactions that they could not have with other elders. I wrote down DRUGS in capitals on the blackboard to which I heard uproar in the class like never before. All of a sudden everyone was yelling the names of the drugs. Interesting revelations were made like the senior students do drugs and are considered cool by the girls. Girls would giggle at statements like this and say that senior boys have a style and look handsome while they drive their cars and smoke. This was a turning point in my life as I realised that when I and my peers were of that age, we had never even heard the word DRUGS. One of the most challenging issues I faced was to answer a 13 year old girl when she stated bluntly in the class that her parents smoke and drink and parents are always right, then who was I to say that these things harmed the body?  I recalled how adamant I used to be when it came to anything that pointed fingers at my parents but gradually learnt that our elders also make mistakes.

My desire to positively contribute in alleviating this dangerous practice found a resonance in the “I Decide” campaign by UNODC hosted in our school. Leading this program for my High School in 2007-2009 made me realize how prevalent and serious this problem is, in India and, in our very school.

Substance Abuse as misunderstood by many does not only refer to the use of “Alcohol, Tobacco or Drugs” but translates to misusing any substance. It could also be sniffing petrol or whitening fluids.

As I dig deeper into the issue I found that the children today are not only exposed to all sorts of things they shouldn’t be but have easy access to them with incorrect information. Internet does not provide all accurate information about drugs, alcohol, tobacco, sex as a lot of manufacturers are selling their products online. Often, if you type a name of a drug to search it might open up a porn site. The question is should children at a tender age be exposed to all this stuff; if knowledge is important then WHY are parents shying away from talking openly to their children; Why are these children being lectured to stay away from the stuff rather than being told the actual pros and cons, Why is it that it is easy for these children to believe what they hear from elder students at school and why are these children shying away from their loved ones if they indulge in an act they like?

We administered surveys to get better insight into the students’ minds and their thinking. The astonishing response was some found drinking was cool. The most surprising revelation was that a large number of students were afraid to talk to their parents. One student pointed out that his mother had told him clearly never to smoke or do drugs because if she found out she would disown him. Other students in the classroom quietly nodded their heads and confirmed to me that they were scared of their parents not loving them anymore. Are parents to scare their children and not provide information to help them not indulge in such activities? Shouldn’t parents guide their children out of substance abuse, if the child ends up being a victim, or should they disown him and make his life even more pathetic?

I keep questioning why; why do people especially children do it? For a five minute high, is it really worth putting everything on the line, family, friends and oneself? I fail to understand that despite knowing the ill effects, why do they still continue? It’s not that problems disappear by using these substances; basically one is postponing taking responsibility and action and damaging oneself in the process.

Once I read somewhere that “weak individuals become addicts”, but what I believe is that addicts become weak individuals. People do not consider whitening fluids, sniffing of petrol, drinking cough syrups or licking glue as harmful substances, but if inhaled, they can give the user a ‘high’ & lead to addiction, causing brain damage. Research indicates that four out of five people who receive treatment never manage to kick the habit but relapse. Thus, prevention is better than cure.

Being blessed, we should endeavour to make a difference to the society, the world that we live in by making sure that we have given our one hundred percent to help trigger a thought process in the minds of the people.

The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz.

image courtesy:

You must be to comment.
  1. Rohit Sahai

    Execellent Article. You bring up to light a very common issue in an uncommon fashion, that is challenging the bigotry that is prevalent, which makes parent shy to discuss openly with their children about drug abuse, sex and relationship maturity.
    I would rather that u also came up and added a with few prospective solutions to the article, since u have so seriously given a thought to it. This makes it more positive in its approach. I infer u must be having it as well.
    Like I feel its the parent who must be counselled as well, so that they may not shy away from their own children, since many parents generally do so, because they themselves are addicts. In such a case, what would they teach to the children? But still parents on account of maturity can be expected to have more self restraint than younger people, and this can put some check to this serene world of drug ecstasy.

  2. Ashu

    Very well written and expressed. Gunveen has depicted a sense of great responsibility towards society.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Suny Tomar

By Kaustav Dass

By The Guy In Mumbai

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below