“Drugs were a way to escape from reality. But because of it, I have faced a lot of discrimination,” said Yukusna Kurumbang. “After a while I had no one around me. No friends I could contact. I have my family but they do not trust me. I am trying to improve.”
There aren’t many resources at Ms. Kurumbang’s disposal. She’s fashioned her own path to recovery including volunteering with YKP Lead Nepal—a youth-led organisation.
“I’m investing in myself and others to escape drugs,” she explained. “I’m trying to control my mind.”
The organisation’s President, Rojal Maharajan, recalls the feeling of isolation he too faced while using: “It’s very humiliating—the gossiping and negative comments. My family also got sick and tired of me. Eventually I had no one to tell about my problems and my mental health status.”
He started his advocacy eight years ago after a successful rehabilitation stint.
“I wanted to do this work to make sure young people who use drugs are treated as human beings. They deserve to have a good life and better opportunities,” he said.
These deeply personal perspectives help YKP Lead Nepal respond to the addiction challenge facing Nepal’s youth. And it’s a complex challenge.
There was a 2021 review of the human rights situation of people who use drugs in Nepal by the International Drug Policy Consortium, Recovering Nepal, YKP LEAD Nepal and Youth Rise International. It notes that the Narcotic Drugs Act criminalises not only drug possession, but addiction itself. According to a 2019 survey of people who use drugs, almost half had been arrested for drug use or a related offence. Among people who injected drugs the arrest rate shot up to 63%.