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Synthetic Drug Menace among Cox’s Bazar Youth: A Looming Crisis

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  • Md. Shahedul Haque

Cox’s Bazar is the longest natural sea beach in the world, hosting tourists from all over the world in Bangladesh, but unfortunately, becoming a nucleus for the perilous spread of synthetic drugs among its youth. The increasing prevalence of synthetic stimulants, such as “Yaba,” a combination of methamphetamine and caffeine, is wreaking havoc on the young populace. This article aims to highlight the impact of synthetic drug use on the adolescents in this coastal region and the wider societal implications therein.
Historically, the coastal context of Cox’s Bazar is vulnerable to drug trafficking. The porous border and the accompanying ease with which drugs are trafficked into the region have made them alarmingly accessible to its youths. Synthetic drugs like Yaba are the most attractive to young people, mainly because of their reputation for giving heightened alertness and weight loss, along with the promise of euphoria. Yet, such fleeting benefits are soon eclipsed by damaging consequences.
The effects of synthetic drug use in Cox’s Bazar have to be considered at several levels: health, social, and economic. Health wise, the use of synthetic drugs has been linked to acute mental health problems, from acute psychotic episodes to long-term cognitive impairment. Physiologically, the use of these substances might lead to heart problems, liver failures, and other serious conditions that strain the local healthcare system. Young users unknowingly trade in momentary highs for a potential lifetime of debilitation or even premature death.
Socially, the very fabric of Cox’s Bazar is tearing apart as the youth fall victims to the vices of addiction. There is a tremendous surge in criminal behaviors ranging from petty thefts to violent crimes as drug dependence drives people to desperate measures. Furthermore, substance use disrupts family structures, many times with cases of negligence, abuse, or even the disintegration of familial ties. Education, one of the key drivers for regional development, suffers as students fall into the lures of synthetic substances, leading to alarming dropout rates and a significant decline in academic performance.
Economically, the long-term effects could be terrible. With a languishing young workforce, the potential for sustained local growth and development is grossly compromised. Tourism—one of the primary economic engines of Cox’s Bazaar—is under threat by the growing drug menace, for safety and security concerns could deter visitors and thus have a potential impact on jobs and businesses reliant on this industry.
However, despite such overwhelming challenges, there is still hope through grass-root initiatives, government and non-governmental organization efforts. Drug education and local advocacy programs are gradually gaining traction, informing youth about the dangers of synthetic substances. Treatment and local enforcement are important together since providing support for those recovering from drug use while staunching the flow of these drugs into the hands of vulnerable young people.
In sum, destruction meted out by synthetic drugs on the youth in Cox’s Bazar is a multidimensional crisis in need of a multidimensional response. This is a challenge that calls for not only local and national governmental action but also international support and cooperation to disrupt the drug trafficking underpinning this regional scourge. Public awareness, health services expansion, and community solidarity are pivotal in steering Cox’s Bazar’s youth away from this destructive cycle towards a healthier, more hopeful horizon. This is a daunting task, but a necessary one if the future of this vibrant coastal community and the youthful spirit that reside within are to be protected.

Writer: Md. Shahedul Haque, Program Coordinator, Health Sector, Dhaka Ahsania Mission

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