A letter to the youth

By Sirajuddin Aziz
Fri, 01, 23

I read to keep myself abreast of what the youth of this country is thinking, their creative abilities, their horizon of thought, their views on education...

A letter to the youth


My dear young people,

Let me first surprise you about myself! I am a senior citizen who has been an ardent and avid reader of Us magazine since its launch, so many moons back. Let me tell you why I like to read Us? Firstly, because it is interesting; I enjoy the Reflection, short stories, Bits ‘n’ Pieces, Feedback, Poets’ Corner, Trust Us and Comic Relief sections. But that alone is not the reason for my interest in US magazine .

I read to keep myself abreast of what the youth of this country is thinking, their creative abilities, their horizon of thought, their views on education, their views on relationships, etc. Basically, the habit is driven by childhood passion to read, and is now charged by intent to know your state of mind. I am father to two sons and two awesome grandsons; they are my best friends. They live overseas, but we still bond passionately, thanks to technology. Just as I am concerned for them, I am for you, too.

My concerns are many: they relate to your education, your friends, your schools, colleges, universities, your hobbies and, more significantly, your relationship with your parents. In the era we are living, values are being pushed back into oblivion, with obliteration of them in sight.

This letter has been prompted by a recent incident my significant half witnessed and narrated to me. The details are heart-wrenching, but I want to share with you as there is an objective to it. Here, goes...

At the pharmacy counter of a store in the upscale area of Defence, a young girl walked up to the pseudo chemist, and authoritatively demanded two packs of high potency anti-depressant/anxiety pills. He declined. She said, ‘Uncle, I know you have them,’ not sheepishly, but confidently. He relented, handing over not two, but one packet to her. My wife believes the chemist was patting himself in celebration for helping the society by not giving the girl two packets.

A letter to the youth

My wife protested to the chemist, and demanded to know how he could dispense those controlled medicines without prescription and that, too, to a teenager. With disdain he explained that young people come in hordes to buy the pills, and threaten him with dire consequences if they are denied. However, the man seemed not too pushed to my wife. She was told these youngsters take it because it lightens the mind, induces ‘cool attitude’ and, to use slang, it gives them ‘kicks’. Horrible!

We, the parents, my dear young people, read with fear and grief that drugs are sold at educational institutes, especially, at the more known and renowned ones. Each of us says a silent prayer for our own and for the offspring of all others. Drugs like weed, hash, ice, marijuana, etc., I am told, are commonly consumed by many teenagers. Sad. If in the West, some societies have legalised the usage up to some specific measure, it doesn’t mean it is legalised here, nor is it in our society an acceptable thing to do. Drugs drug your self-worth, esteem and your dreams. Since it is sold, obviously the purchaser uses, his/her pocket money to buy. Children would clearly not ask their parents to give them money, usually large amounts, to buy drugs.

It is also obvious that in case there is shortage of vitamin M, (money) and the addiction has housed itself deeply into the abuser, it has potential to drive him/her towards criminality by stealing the required amount of money from their parents.

Dear Youth, you are our collective hope; please know that you are known by the company you keep, so choose your friends very carefully. A single fish destroys the pond.

As a parent, I must tell you also that technology is not for illicit use. Preferably make no friends online; never share your details with any unknown person on the various social media platforms you use, spend less time on unnecessary apps and, most importantly, never agree to meet in person any online contact, without parental presence. Do not visit sites that do not correspond to your values.

When faced with any type of threat or harassment, discuss with your elder siblings or parents. Don’t try to handle the harasser yourself. You must know that no person can give you better counsel and advice than your parents and your family. Say no to drugs, and say, vehemently, yes, to friendship with parents. They are your anchors.

Why would any of you resort to drugs? Don’t you love your parents who, in such distressing and challenging economic times, are doing the hard work. For what? To self inflict wounds that would remain for a lifetime with no healing. Your parents desire you to grow into beautiful and responsible citizens of our beloved country. They want you to be the face and ambassadors of their family values; all harboured in the priceless ambit of nobility. Every issue in life has a decent solution. Trust me.

Please don’t destroy dreams - theirs and yours. I am certain you will heed my advice, nay a plea, with folded hands. Stay away from drugs. Please.

The writer is a Senior Banker, having authored ten books, and is a regular contributor to newspapers.

Recognizing unhealthy drug use in family members

A letter to the youth

Sometimes it’s difficult to distinguish normal teenage moodiness or anxiety from signs of drug use. It’s the responsibility of parents and elders to recognise signs and symptoms of drug addiction in their younger children and siblings. Parents need to understand how peer pressure can make their children vulnerable to the use of drugs. Older siblings should also be vigilant and report any of the following signs and symptoms to their parents. Take heed in case you, dear reader, are being coerced by your peers to take drugs just for the heck of it.

Possible signs that your teenager or other family member is using drugs include:

* Problems at school or work — frequently missing school or work, a sudden disinterest in school activities or work, or a drop in grades or work performance

* Major efforts to bar family members from entering the teenager’s room or being secretive about going out with friends;

*Drastic changes in behaviour and in relationships with family and friends

* Sudden requests for money without a reasonable explanation

* Your discovery that money is missing or has been stolen or that items have disappeared from your home, indicating maybe they’re being sold to support drug use

A letter to the youth

* Physical warning signs of drug abuse

* Increased blood pressure and heart rate

* Blood shot eyes, pupils larger or smaller than usual

* Dry mouth

* Runny nose or sniffling

* Decreased coordination

* Difficulty concentrating or remembering

* Slowed reaction time

* Anxiety or paranoid thinking

* Yellow fingertips

* Major cravings for certain foods at unusual times

* Lack of interest in clothing, grooming or looks

* Changes in appetite or sleep patterns

* Deterioration of physical appearance, personal grooming habits

* Sudden weight loss or weight gain

* Tremors, slurred speech or impaired coordination

* Unusual odours on breath, body or clothing

* Feeling a sense of euphoria

* A heightened sense of visual, auditory and taste perception

A letter to the youth

Behavioural warning signs of drug abuse and addiction

* Feeling that you have to use the drug regularly — daily or even several times a day

* Having intense urges for the drug that block out any other thoughts

* Over time, needing more of the drug to get the same effect

* Taking larger amounts of the drug over a longer period of time than you intended

* Making certain that you maintain a supply of the drug

* Spending money on the drug, even though you can’t afford it

* Not meeting obligations and work responsibilities, or cutting back on social or recreational activities because of drug use

* Continuing to use the drug, even though you know it’s causing problems in your life or causing you physical or psychological harm

* Doing things to get the drug that you normally wouldn’t do, such as stealing

* Driving or doing other risky activities when you’re under the influence of the drug

* Spending a good deal of time getting the drug, using the drug or recovering from the effects of the drug

* Failing in your attempts to stop using the drug

A letter to the youth

* Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when you attempt to stop taking the drug

* Increased drug tolerance (the need to use more of the drug to experience the same effects one used to achieve with smaller amounts)

* Using drugs to avoid or relieve withdrawal symptoms (nausea, restlessness, insomnia, depression, sweating, shaking, anxiety)

* Loss of control over drug use (using more than intended, unable to stop)

* Life revolves around drug use (always thinking of using, figuring how to get more, or recovering from use)

* Abandoning enjoyable activities (hobbies, sports, and socializing) to use drugs

* Continuing to use regardless of negative consequences

(blackouts, infections, mood swings, depression, paranoia)