Dr Vani Kulhalli, a Mumbai-based child & adolescent psychiatrist says it is common for the youth to experiment new things for stimulation. She finds it unfair to selectively target Bollywood for substance abuse
Every human being needs a certain amount of challenge, something difficult to win over to give them a high – a certain amount of stimulation. This trait is particularly evident in growing years when, as an adolescent or a youth, one wants to try out or experiment new things, taking some risks. And there is really no limit setting over there.
Use of banned substance among the youth also falls under this category. On a lower scale, it could be compared to violating traffic rules or other rash behaviour on road. I would particularly like to say that it is not related to any social or economic status. What sets things apart is access. The degree of one’s access or affluence decides what he or she finds stimulating or challenging.
Having said that parental supervision and participation in their children’s lives is important. For children coming from privileged families, where parents often lead busy lives, a lack of supervision is generally witnessed. In addition, children have easy access to a luxurious lifestyle. They really don’t have anything to strive for, which induces a sense of meaninglessness to their lives. In comparison, a middle class child would long for and strive to achieve a certain thing in life.
However, the longing for experimenting spans across economic strata. This is what leads the youth to break taboos. Some may try drugs while others steal sleeping pills from grandma’s box, pinch a cigarette from daddy’s packet, or snatch a swig from the bar cabinet. Taking things farther, if one is affluent, one may try out substance that are fairly expensive, not easily available and considered ‘hip’ in their circuit.
This is part of growing up and it has little to do exclusively with Bollywood children. The filmdom is full of stable families and responsible parents. Even when we come across some cases of broken or troubled relationships between parents, there is something called as a cohort effect, which is a behaviour unique to one generation. The child’s reaction in such cases will be different to what could be their parents’ reaction in similar situation.
Irrespective of the family or the affluence status, what makes all the difference is if the child knows there is a certain kind of supervision from the parents, it will act as a protective ring for him. If there is a warm relationship between the child and the parents where the child can express one’s fears or feelings, it will provide him or her a sense of belonging.
Parents need to understand one thing that between the age of 15years and 25 years, these things do happen but they should not take it as a judgment of the character of their child. They have to consider this as an alarm bell. They have to sit down, open a conversation as to what happened and how it happened.
As Told To Mamta Sharma