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His Majestyโ€™s resounding call to eradicate the rising threat of behavioral and mental health disorders caused by substance use is a clarion call for action. It highlights the imperative of safeguarding our citizens from the devastating effects of substance abuse. This is not just a challenge for the authorities, but a collective responsibility that demands our utmost support and commitment.

In recent times, we have seen the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP) making strides in apprehending drug paddlers and distributors, and it is heartening to know that they are keeping a vigilant eye on potential culprits. This proactive initiative is indicative of the authoritiesโ€™ earnestness in obliterating the syndicates and associates involved in drug paddling and dealing. Such decisive actions are crucial in protecting our society from the scourge of substance abuse.

It is plausible to believe that these successes are a result of the establishment of the National Drug Task Force (NDTF), which has taken on the mantle to confront substance use-related challenges head-on. With its singular focus on tackling this critical issue, the NDTF plays a pivotal role in coordinating efforts to combat the rising drug problem.

The authoritiesโ€™ decision to name and shame perpetrators on social media with pictures as a deterrent to crime has garnered mixed reactions. While some netizens oppose this idea, fearing public humiliation and mental trauma, there are others who support this initiative with the same conviction, possibly because they have experienced the darker side of these activities. However, it is vital to consider the far-reaching impact of substance abuse on individuals, their families, society, and the nation as a whole. To put it simply, no supplier, no abuser, no name and shame, and โ€œall happy netizens and citizensโ€.

On a serious note, each victim of substance abuse brings with them a ripple effect that touches the lives of their families, friends, and the communities they reside in. The nightmare of addiction traumatizes not just the individuals caught in its grip but also their loved ones who bear the brunt of the consequences. As someone who has personally experienced the loss of a family member to substance abuse, I understand the pain and suffering that it inflicts on families and friends.

Imagine a single drug paddler supplying contraband substances to tens of clients, and the far-reaching ripple effects it could have on each of those abusers. One personโ€™s(paddler/supplier) actions could potentially devastate numerous lives.

Moreover, the drug paddlers, with their networks of clients, often comprise young individuals who have not even begun to explore lifeโ€™s opportunities. Some may never get to see the light at the end of the day. While holding perpetrators accountable for their actions is crucial, it is equally vital to recognize that everyone deserves a second chance. We must explore options for rehabilitation, up-skilling, and providing a path to redemption for those involved in substance abuse and even the perpetrators.

The authorityโ€™s efforts to step up surveillance and declare our nation a drug-free country are commendable. A stringent approach to curb substance paddlers is essential to protect our society from falling into the clutches of addiction and its associated horrors. However, the focus should not solely be on punitive measures but also on preventive and corrective actions.

In this battle against substance abuse, we must address the underlying factors that drive individuals towards drugs. Socioeconomic disparities, unemployment, and social alienation can make individuals vulnerable to drug abuse. By tackling these root causes and creating opportunities for positive engagement and growth, we can steer individuals away from the path of addiction.

Furthermore, we need to foster a supportive environment for those seeking help and rehabilitation. Open dialogue about mental health and addiction is critical to break the stigma associated with seeking treatment and support. A compassionate and understanding society can encourage individuals to come forward and seek the help they need to break free from the clutches of addiction.

As we move forward, we must adopt a comprehensive approach to tackle substance abuse. While the authorities play a significant role in enforcement, we must also emphasize preventive measures, education, and rehabilitation. Raising awareness about the dangers of substance abuse and investing in counseling services and support networks are equally essential components of the battle.

The battle against substance abuse is a collective responsibility that demands concerted efforts from all sectors of society. His Majestyโ€™s call to action is a crucial reminder of the importance of safeguarding our citizensโ€™ mental health and well-being. As a nation, we must work together to create a safer, healthier, and drug-free environment for the present and future generations. By combining compassion with decisive action, we can overcome this menace and build a better tomorrow for our country.

I sincerely pray that no one experiences the pain of losing a brother, a friend or a son to the scourge of substance abuse facilitated by some self-profiting individual. Therefore, say โ€œNo to drug paddlersโ€ and โ€œNo to drugsโ€.


Tobgay, Thimphu

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