Mon, 25 Dec 2000

Too much fun bring them down

JAKARTA (JP): A famous television newscaster's son, a famous fashion designer's daughter, a famous general's son, the son of a famous professor, the son of a well known surgeon, a wealthy international businessman's son, the son of a famous rock star, top government officials, minister's sons and daughters, some of Indonesia's most well known, distinguished, and famous family names populate the expanding list of drug abusers and addicts across our nation.

Some of these individuals are now being treated in drug treatment and recovery centers across Jabotabek (Jakarta-Bogor- Tangerang-Bekasi) area, and other parts of Java. Drug abuse and addiction has become an acknowledged crisis across our nation.

How can these young individuals, who seemingly have everything they want, become drug abusers and addicts? They have all the advantages young people could ever want. They have prestigious, well known, caring and loving parents. They live in the finest homes - their wardrobes and closets are filled with labeled clothes from around the world, they are enrolled in the best schools and given the best education possible. They have money in their pockets to spend daily, they want for nothing, everything needed is provided, yet many become drug abusers.

Why, how can this be?

Young people, both males and females, get high for many reasons, and the three main reasons are, first for fun, second for escape, and third because there is no other choice! Upper and middle class youths usually begin getting high with their friends, or relatives, just for fun.

It's just cool getting high, and so cool getting high with cool friends. Getting high for young people is fun, cool, exciting, euphoric, magic - a magical mystery tour, a Disneyland ticket ride into the mind, a trip within the world of illusion and fantasy, and a way to experience the sinetron world of drugs, sex and crazy music.

Why do they do this, what is the fantastic attraction to drugs and getting high? Because it's cool to fit in, it's cool to be part of the in-crowd. It's cool to be seen and be known as one who travels within the popular, and veiled, inner-circles. It's very cool to be seen as someone who's cool. It's cool to get high! All the cool people party and get high.

Young people from the upper classes are known to become easily restless, meaning bored. Often they complain, "there is never anything to do, everything is so monotonous and boring". And - drugs take the boredom and monotony away ... they take the boredom and monotony away, very, very quickly.

Drugs, in the beginning, make a person feel good (fantastic, wonderful, and often very special), feel a glow and warmth they have never felt before, feel good about themselves, feel all the senses come alive, feel the mind come alive and feel a sense of freedom. Drugs, in the beginning, give new meaning and value to the word "FUN".

Peter Pan fantasy

Often young people, who come from affluent families, run around endlessly in search of fun. Fun, that ever present enticement, that lure of primitive seduction, the enchantment of music and rhyme from the "magical kingdom" that calls from within the world of drugs. The desire for fun, the lust to have more, the craving to be able to have fun forever.... Drugs, often in the beginning stages, create an imaginative Peter Pan fantasy ... "the idea a person can have fun forever, can create and live within a magical realm, and will never, never have to grow-up."

The advantages the upper classes enjoy are obvious, they have open exposure and full access to all the novelties and candy (life style and drugs) young people could hope for. Often those from the upper echelon search for weekend excitement every day of the week. Many who begin using drugs regularly believe they need incentive to stimulate motivation. Drugs, early on provide incentive, do stimulate, and help with motivation. (But ... this euphoric panacea does not last very long.) This is a "circle game", yet this is what these individuals believe.

Also, these young people, their friends, and their peer groups are easy "marks" for small time dealers and local neighborhood connections that look for easy prey to peddle their "stuff."

Today the drug culture is well established and firmly rooted in Indonesia. Drug trafficking routes are well organized and run efficiently. Putaw (low-grade heroin) is now accessible from Sabang to Merauke. Factories churn out large quantities of ecstasy and shabu-shabu (methamphetamine) from their well equipped laboratories and fields of marijuana are secure and protected from outside interference.

The latest estimates of drug addicts in Indonesia are 3.6 million. The abundance of drugs in the major cities and the broad availability would indicate the number is on the increase.


Family name, status, influence, or intellect have little to do with who will, or will not become a drug abuser or addict? Young men and women from the upper strata of our society fall into the drug trap just as easily as the less fortunate. But the stigma and disgrace are often more difficult to confront by families from the upper class. Families from the upper class, at first, try and hide the problem behind closed doors, hire a professional therapist to try and correct the problem, purchase herbs and expensive vitamins, special remedies and medicines, or try rapid detox with doctors and psychiatrists supervising treatment, seek religious help to heal the problem, or send the young person to another country for detoxification and rehabilitation.

Malu - the shame, guilt, and disgrace of having a drug addict for a son or daughter is one of the most horrible and shocking nightmare a parent can possibly imagine. Occasionally, the possibility that someone in the community or place of employment might find out about the drug problem in the family, causes some parents (or other family members) such suffering and anguish that some suffer a mental and emotional collapse (breakdown) under the stress of the situation.

Another consideration we must now confront is the rapidly escalating cases of HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis C, among drug users, abusers and addicts. Those in the upper classes are often more susceptible to becoming infected with these viruses, because needle use and needle sharing is prevalent, and considered very cool, with many young men and women in the upper strata who use putaw and shabu-shabu. Many young Indonesians in today's drug scene began using needles semi-regularly or regularly starting as early as junior high or high school.

Over the next few years substantial numbers of our most well known sons and daughters, as well as a mass of unknown young people will become drug abusers and addicts. Many already are.

In truth, hard drugs (putaw and shabu-shabu) can easily be found across the entire archipelago. People must realize, there is no way to protect their family from the pressure, the danger of today's drug culture. Both the rich and famous, and the moderate and the fragile are susceptible to drug abuse and addiction.

If drug abuse or addiction (and/or HIV/AIDS or Hepatitis) enters your home and affects a family member, reach out, seek qualified and professional assistance. Don't become so frightened or embarrassed about "face, malu, and reputation" that you become immobile and cannot take positive action. Remember the primary concern for a family facing this problem is the concern for saving a life. (David Gordon)