Mumbai: Drug menace raises ugly head in Max City

Mumbai: Easy access to recreational drugs like cannabis (weed), coke (cocaine), ecstasy (MDMA or paper) and methamphetamine (MD-crystal meth) are attracting youths like never before, as the menace has spread its tentacles in Mumbai, with students being the most vulnerable. Many youngsters from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and other parts of Maharashtra who come to Mumbai to study are falling prey to this addiction, causing their families and college authorities to be concerned. As a result, the Anti-Narcotics Cell has initiated a strict drive to eradicate the drug menace in and around educational institutions of this city.

Sharing their stories, the students highlighted how easy it is to procure drugs in any city, where the predators target vulnerable people, mostly students. The point of contact is usually outside local stations and educational institutions.

Footballer to druggie

An event management student, Meghansh Dubey, 21, from Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh), was a good sportsman and played many games. Football was his passion since schooldays. He was also a professional Brazilian jiu-jitsu fighter, participating in several local matches. He has played basketball at the regional level, swam upstream -- having covered 15-16 km from one point of the Ganga river to another in Kanpur, with his coach. But Dubey has always wanted to try something new. When he was 17, he began smoking and before he knew it, he was also drinking. The fascination for new experiences was so great that experimenting with drugs came next. Before he realised, he had kicked football out of his life and became addicted to drugs. “I tried alcohol, but didn’t like it. So, I thought of trying recreational drugs. One day, my seniors were smoking weed and I found it interesting and asked if I could take a puff. I did and instantly developed a liking for it and soon, it became a habit. After this, I began experimenting because I wanted something new every time, just for the kicks,” says Dubey.

Later, he bought MD crystal and other party drugs. “I found MD even better and slowly began trying more powerful ones. I then progressed to snorting cocaine and ecstasy (paper). I began smoking weed quite regularly,” admitted Dubey.

Another shot at life

Soon, his habit began to take a toll on him. He lost a lot of weight and became weak. That was when he resolved to quit drugs. Determined to kick his addiction, he went on medical leave for six months. From then on, he began to tackle life one day at a time. “I worked very hard to kick this habit. I got back to training slowly and in the last six months, I spent four hours daily playing football just to get back to normal. Unfortunately, kicking the butt is proving a daunting task,” admits Dubey, smiling.

He also admits it is rather easy to procure drugs in any city. “I used to buy MD crystal outside Mumbai Central station. Sadly, drugs are easily available outside every station from Churchgate to Virar; near Azad Maidan, Bhuleshwar and other places in Mumbai. I would buy ‘button’ (a hypnotic drug) near Bandra station and weed outside Goregaon station.”

Interestingly, to remind him of his addiction days, he has got a tattoo. He has inked “Maggie 2.0” (Maggie is his nickname). Every time he sees the tattoo, he remembers this is his second shot at life.

Frenemy’s ‘date’ with dad

Meghansh Dubey’s classmate Rudresh Satpute was his ‘drug buddy’ during his addiction. Speaking to The Free Press Journal, Satpute, an Andheri resident said, “When my parents learnt of my habit, they took me to a rehabilitation centre. When I saw the building I broke down. With tears running down my cheeks, I gave my parents a look of surprise and my father too became emotional. In a last-ditch attempt to avoid being institutionalised, I tried to convince my father I would never do drugs again. However, those pleas fell on deaf ears and I stayed in rehab for three months,” he recollects. “How my parents learnt of my addiction is still a mystery to me,” he adds.

Millennial mindset

Kalyan resident, Pratiksha Chaudhary, 23, said, “I was born and brought up in Mumbai. Smoking and drinking is common here. I first tried drugs with my boyfriend. Initially, he was not used to it. Then, he became an addict. A year later, I broke up with him and quit drugs. It was madness. It all started due to his bad influence.”

Another female student from Andheri, whose college group would usually assemble at or around Topiwala Mall in Goregaon, said, “It’s our life and we will do what we want. We are adults and no one has a right to intefere in our lives.”

Amit Arora