It’s heartening to see about 28 volunteers and recovering addicts come together to create awareness on substance abuse.

The social menace that substance abuse has become must be eradicated from the Bhutanese society. But again, that’s easier said than done.

We have come a long way in our fight against substance abuse with the government and CSOs making every effort to advocate, educate and rehabilitate. But each time, we are also getting convinced that the fight is far from over. A new drug, which most would be hearing for the first time, comes into the limelight often, and by then we realise that the substance has already penetrated the society and have regular clients.

We need collective effort to face this huge challenge at home. Some countries have capital punishment when it comes to dealing with drugs and some go to the extent of annihilating the addicts.

We have reached a crossroad where every Bhutanese and the authorities need to pause and assess the gravity of the problem for us to address the issue in a comprehensive manner. Given our population size, paralyzing our adolescent populace would have implications on the national security and peace now and in the future.

It would be no use to blame those caught in the habit of abusing substances due to various unfortunate circumstances. But those substance dealers who are trying to make quick money cannot be forgiven easily. They must realise the consequences of their deeds to the families and the nation at large.

The dealers, who indulge in their selfish business of peddling controlled substances, must realise the worst pain and helplessness inflicted on parents and relatives when they lose someone dear to drugs. We in Bhutan say that you will realise only when your shin meets the stone. Perhaps, the dealers will also experience the suffering when one of their own fall prey to these abuses.

We have laws and rules. We are creating awareness. But we call on all Bhutanese, including the parents, the agencies and the media to come together and intelligently prevent this social menace and to save and restore lives of our fellow Bhutanese. Everyone is precious to the Drukyul.

His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo in his address during the National Graduates’ Orientation Programme in 2007 made it clear of our responsibilities:

“I know that we all love our country. Now as you are about to shoulder greater responsibilities in life, I want you to love your country in the most intelligent manner. It is one thing to love your country, it is quite another to love it intelligently.”

It is about time we loved our country intelligently.