The drug epidemic in Bangladesh is indeed very bad and the recent news of a boy taking his own life after taking LSD points towards the fact that drug use is extremely varied now.
Things are rapidly changing; the drugs that young people would use earlier are not the same as the ones they use these days.
But unfortunately our health professionals are not up to date about these.
LSD is a drug which can be used in ways that cannot be traced, it can be soaked in paper and these papers can be easily carried around as books.
To make matters worse, drugs are being sold online, as we have come to know. These days, drug users also tend to go more to pharmacies and not directly to the dealers.
We do not have data on all the drugs and we of course do not have data on the new-age drugs.
I would not say the drug problem is unaddressed in our country. Our narcotics department does its work. The problem is that the drugs and their mode of sales are changing very quickly.
In the past, the police would physically catch the dealers, but now that the drugs are being sold online, it is more difficult to trace the sellers.
LSD is not a new drug and it is not even new in the country. It is not an addictive drug, it is a recreational drug.
But to handle the current drug situation, multiple agencies need to be involved in it.
All of the officials have to be up to date and understand that the treatment protocol is different for every drug.
I think the most important thing we can do is increase awareness and education, and this has to start early.
From school curriculums to training modules for doctors, awareness and education about drugs need to be everywhere.
We need to know that not every drug causes addiction. A foreigner having a glass of wine is not necessarily an alcoholic. Similarly, there are people who are addicted to cigarettes or 'paan-jorda'.
Our health sector is not equipped to handle the drug epidemic. In our country, addiction falls under the narcotics department and not the health sector and that is part of the problem.
We have strict laws, and they are as tough as they can be, but drug addiction and abuse should be dealt with by the health and education departments.
Of course the dealers need to be brought under the law, but not the users. The users are not the criminals.
The users are victims of a much bigger system where young people are targeted by drug dealers.
As mentioned earlier, LSD is a hallucinating drug and it has been around for a long time.
Because of lack of awareness and education, people who want to use this do not know its usage and aftereffects.
The boy who took LSD became psychotic and had a 'bad trip' because he and his friends did not know anything about the drug.
The hallucination from taking LSD is transient and it is not a permanent thing. Had he received support, he probably would have lived.
I strongly believe that when it comes to drugs, say 'know' to drugs. You have to know the drugs and their properties.
Drugs are there, they have always been there, and they are not going anywhere.
People will always find ways to do drugs and bring in drugs through borders, regardless of how strict countries are.
Education and awareness will definitely bring changes. Drugs are not only a massive problem for Bangladesh, they are also a global problem.
There are thousands of drugs like LSD and we do not know about them.
If you tell the youth 'do not do drugs', you will also have to give them healthy alternatives for their entertainment, especially during the coronavirus when the young people have less things to do.
The author is lead consultant psychiatrist and managing director at Psychological Health and Wellness Clinic (PHWC)