Although reports are hard to come by these days what with oddly restrictive measures employed by offices and organisations concerned and their strong will to keep media at bay, statistics show that there has been the year-on-year rise of offences related to controlled substances in the country. We also know that the numbers reflect only those offences that were reported and recorded.

A large number of crimes go unreported, sometimes called dark figure of crime.

The issue of substance abuse is perhaps the biggest bane of modern times. The problem has grown to such an extent that almost all sections of our society are involved, from civil servants to private employees to pensioners. What is worrying is that this scourge is affecting the most promising and productive section of our society – the youth.

Porous border and easy access to controlled substance have long been recognised as the main reasons behind the rise of crimes related to peddling, abuse, and trafficking of a controlled substance in the country. Like much else, however, there is more to the issue than meets the eye. What about awareness and willingness of the society to combat the scourge?

We may have, laws, rules and regulations, but they are good only inasmuch as they are given the teeth. Recently, when the issue of SP+ exploded in the media, our lawmakers had to debate whether the narcotics and controlled substances law was adequate enough to deal with one of the fastest rising problems in our society.

There are many approaches we can take. What we cannot afford, though, is to sit and look on by. We may already be running short of time.

Recently, in Phuentsholing, a multi-sectoral task force was formed to enhance efforts to monitor and inspect illicit sale and distribution of controlled substances in the border town. The task force included members from the thromde office, Royal Bhutan Police, customs, immigration, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, and trade.

We are yet to see the achievements of the task force but a joint effort is always powerful and effective. We could think about involving even schools, parents and other critically important sections of our society if we are to win the battle against substance abuse and trafficking of controlled substances.