Addiction is the greatest scourge we face today, calling us to deal with it urgently and effectively. Considering more than half our population constitutes young people, addiction should be viewed as a compelling problem of modern life.

At a time when we are grappling with the growing problem of addiction due to increasing availability of tempting activities and substances, what is needed is counterbalancing forces in the society. We cannot just rely on the few institutions and support groups to deal with the problem. Response must come from larger communities and society itself. That means dealing with problem of addiction will require us to look beyond prevention and treatment.

What we lack in our society, though, is support structures that will help recovering addicts stay away from the old habits. When they return from rehabilitation centres, they find that they have nowhere to go than to walk into the same dark places where they picked up the habit. It appears that a more promising direction is the development of community and support structures at the points. We might turn to legislative and individual solutions to deal effectively with addiction problem, but little can be achieved without strong support networks in the society. Prohibitionist legislation will not help prevent addiction problems. What we really need to have a comprehensive view of addiction. Instead of blaming the people struggling with the problem of addiction, we could begin by taking ownership of the problem. Dealing with the problem will yield not much result otherwise.

Also, we need more people who can volunteer to sit with young people who may be walking into the problem of addiction. Not everybody requires medically supervised detox or an extended time in a rehab. What we must know is that rehabilitation treatment is not very popular with people struggling with addiction because treatment is much longer and requires total abstinence. But there are other treatment methods that are more effective. What about pharmacological treatment? A patient can lead a normal life and still quit the habit. It may perhaps be the most effective way to deal with problem of addiction by making pharmacological treatment available in all the dzongkhags and health facilities.

But that just the start; we can do more. It is also the responsibility of mass media to enlist positive support in the nationwide anti-abuse campaigns.