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The growing menace of Drug abuse in India

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  • Published
    1st Oct, 2019

The rising incidence of drug abuse in India has come to the limelight. A recent Punjab government forensic lab report revealed that the number of deaths caused by drug overdose is rising.



The rising incidence of drug abuse in India has come to the limelight. A recent Punjab government forensic lab report revealed that the number of deaths caused by drug overdose is rising.


  • An AIIMS study in February 2019 found that around 5 crore Indians reported to have used cannabis and opioids at the time of the survey.
  • About 60 lakh people are estimated to need help for their opioid use problems and nationally, it is estimated that there are about 8.5 lakh people who inject drugs.
  • India’s porous borders adjacent to Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent areas allow illegal drug smuggling.
  • Of the total cases estimated by the report, more than half of them are contributed by states like Assam, Delhi, Haryana, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh.
  • Punjab ranks consistently at the top or in the top five in many of the surveys conducted.


Reasons for drug abuse

  • Experimentation and identity forming: The incidence of drug abuse among children and adolescents is higher than the general population. This is notably because youth is a time for experimentation and identity forming. Changing cultural values, increasing economic stress are some other reasons leading to initiation into drugs use.
  • Glorification in media: Quite often it so happens that doing drugs is romanticized and some fictional positive aspects of the same are shown.
  • Neurotic pleasure: Abused drugs interact with the neurochemistry of the brain to produce feelings of pleasure. The intensity of this euphoria differs by the type of drug and how it is used.
  • To feel better: Some people suffer from depression, social anxiety, stress-related disorders, and physical pain. Using drugs may be an attempt to lessen these feelings of distress. Stress especially plays a significant role in starting and continuing drug use as well as returning to drug use (relapsing) for those recovering from an addiction.
  • To boost performance: Ours is a very competitive society, in which the pressure to perform athletically and academically can be intense. Some people may turn to certain drugs like illegal or prescription stimulants because they think those substances will enhance or improve their performance.
  • Changing traditional societal values: The processes of industrialization, urbanization and migration have led to loosening of the traditional methods of social control rendering an individual vulnerable to the stresses and strains of modern life.
  • To be accepted by peers: Many people use drugs “because others are doing it”—or they think others are doing it—and they fear not being accepted in a social circle that includes drug-using peers. It soon reaches a stage where this need becomes much more than other needs in life and the person begins to believe their survival depends on those drugs.
  • Lack of effective policing: Police sometimes turn blind eyes for the sake of their own profit. Police need to remain alert on surveillance so as to curb this drug syndicate.

Impact of Drug Abuse

  • Drug abuse leads to physical, psychological, moral and intellectual decay. This means wastage of economic potential of young generation.
  • Drug addiction causes immense human distress. Incidence of eve- teasing, group clashes, assault and impulsive murders increase with drug abuse.
  • Drug use can lead to social and emotional problems and can affect relationships with family and friends.
  • Problems with memory, attention and decision-making, which make daily living more difficult.
  • Illegal production and distribution of drugs have spawned crime and violence worldwide.
  • Increase in incidences of HIV, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis due to addiction adds the reservoir of infection in the community burdening the health care system further.
  • Women in India face greater problems from drug abuse. The consequences include domestic violence and infection with HIV, as well as the financial burden.

Solutions to Drug Problem

  • Society based Solutions: Prevention programmes involving entities such as families, schools and the immediate communities are important in this regard. Media – especially the entertainment segment – also needs to understand its role in this context, glorification of drug use should completely stop. Role of NGO’s is also important to fight this menace.
  • Legal Measures: The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, were enacted with stringent provisions to curb this menace. The Act has been further amended by making provisions for the forfeiture of properties derived from illicit drugs trafficking. However, effective implementation and time bound judicial process are the need of the hour.
  • International effort: India lies between two major drugs producing areas in the world i.e. Golden Crescent (Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan) and Golden Triangle (Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar). In order to stop supply of drugs from these areas International coordination is very important. We need to effectively use SAARC and ASEAN platform for joint coordinated action against drugs trafficking.
  • Also, India is signatory to the following treaties and conventions. U.N. Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), U.N. Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971), U.N. Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988), Transnational Crime Convention (2000).
  • Manipur is exploring possibility to legalise cannabis, or marijuana growing and use it for medicinal and industrial usage. This may allow proper regulations and thereby curb illegal usage of drugs

Way Forward

  • Considering the wider perspective of the threat the drug menace presents, India has to spread more awareness among the public particularly among youth about ill effects of drug abuse and need to create adequate infrastructure for treatment, rehabilitation and harm reduction for the victim of the drug abuse.
  • Make treatment available on Request like Any Other Health Service: Making treatment services widely available undermines the drug market and reduces the harms from drug abuse.
  • Treatment should be defined broadly and must include abstinence-based treatment and easier access to methadone and other alternative maintenance drug.
  • The most effective way to prevent adolescent drug abuse is to invest in youth and keep them interested and involved in life.
  • Government should increase funding for after school programs, mentor programs, skills building/job training programs and summer job programs.
  • Psychiatrist counselling of drug patients: Early recognition Program.
  • Include drug abuse related topics in school curriculum at appropriate age.
  • Build more rehabilitation centres and create support groups like Alcoholic anonymous.

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