Substance Abuse Turns Out To Be A Major Problem In India

The National Crime Record Bureau, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, has published a survey on the extent of substance abuse in India. The data collected shows a total number of 874, 750 and 778 people have died during 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively, the cause of death being drug overdose.

What has the survey discovered?

India is the home to six crore alcoholics, and despite alcoholism being a serious medical issue, sadly, only 3% of such addicts receive the required medical attention. About 2.8% of Indians have reportedly abused cannabis products such as Bhang, Ganja, Charas, Heroin and Opiumover the last one year. In states like Punjab and Sikkim, the number of cannabis abusers is much higher than in the rest of the country. Heroin is the most commonly abused pharmaceutical opioid, closely followed by opium or afeem. Less Less than 1% have been discovered to be using non-prescription sedatives. A large number of those users are children. The states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, and Haryana register more prevalence of such use among children.

How is the government tackling the crisis?

In November 2016, the government constituted the Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) to provide financial assistance to states for narcotics control. Higher rewards are being offered for the seizure of illegal drugs. We have signed 37 memorandums with foreign countries towards tackling the issue. Narcotics Control Bureau is being funded to develop new software to create a complete online database of drug offenses and offenders. The government has allocated funds to the National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse for rehabilitating and education of the public towards abuse of drugs, and try to tackle illicit trafficking. National Drug Abuse Survey is being conducted to understand the spread and nature of the problem. National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (2018-2023) has been drafted by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to address the problem at large.

Way Forward

Creating frameworks and allocating funds may be the first step, but they are not enough. Prevention and solid support are the keys. Programmes held at schools and colleges, as well as on a community level will help create a more aware and empathetic society. Parents must be taught to notice drug-related behavior changes in their children. Fast track courts to tackle substance trafficking cases and standard rehabilitation centers for victims are the need of the hour. Any steps that are taken to provide victims safe space and traffickers stringent punishment will go a long way in ending this menace.


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