Drug abuse has become a global phenomenon affecting almost every country though the extent and characteristics vary depending on the country in question. The most commonly used and abused substances are cigarettes, cannabis, and alcohol. Alcohol and other related problems are becoming more and more a public health concern. The misuse of alcohol represents one of the leading causes of preventable death, illness, and injury. Other common substances are inhalants, heroin, and cocaine. This abuse is believed to be associated with increasing amounts consumed, the frequency of use and groups involved.
The substance abuse problem in India is no different from other countries though there may be variations in the magnitude of the problem. It is difficult to say when it actually became a problem in India but its existence according to educated guesses could be
traced as far back as during the colonial times. Currently, the use and abuse of drugs have expanded to include the youth.
Youth in our country is especially vulnerable to this menace. Drug abuse along with the abuse of alcohol coupled with smoking of tobacco products is taking a heavy toll on the health of the youth. It entails not only health costs but also economic and social costs. To summarize, the spread of drug abuse among the youth is hurting the foundation of our society.
Adolescence is a tough phase. Life becomes challenging enough on its own. India has drug use prevalence of around 3%. It is mainly the young boys and girls who are engaging in drug use for a variety of reasons. Parental pressure to perform well academically and along with this, the changes which happen among the cohort while growing into an adult.
Recent trends have been divergent from earlier cases where drug use was most prominent in poor sections of the society. Now the major episode of drug abuse is seen among the youths of cities.
The data available presents a situation of concern in terms of the abuse of drugs among young people in almost every region in the country. The National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) at All IndiaInstitute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) report that around 32,000 drug abusers turn up every year and 21,000 more get community care. Their data shows the drug users have increased from 22 percent to 42per cent between 2000 and 2009, with a large portion of the cases reported as youngsters between the ages 15-27.
The thrill of experimentation and a need to be one of the group is the prime reason of their entry to this world. The easy availability of these substances coupled with social media penetration adds to the above equation finally fulfilling the end goal/objective.
This rise of drug abuse among adolescents can also be attributed to societal changes; depression among youth arising out of low self-esteem, rejection, improper parental care and their tendency to fit in with the growing trend. This experimentation nature of youth is further fuelled by the Bollywood culture where these younger generation is trying to imitate the actors and actresses.
The recent cases of Hyderabad kids being hooked to LSD, Delhi getting high on ecstasy, Mumbai swears by ice, ketamine is Chennai’s poison, Lucknow raves on yaba and Calcutta dotes on meth, all of which are lethal drugs presents a grim picture.
Article 47 of The Constitution of India which directs the State to bring about the prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health has been one of the earliest intervention to build a society fuelled by Gandhian ideals. But sadly enough this article is a part of Directive Principles hence will come into effect only by means of positive legislation.
The Union ministry has acknowledged the magnitude of this problem and has advised all states and UTs to prepare an actionable plan. But as of August 2016, only 17 states or UTs has provided the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with actionable plan.
While the reasons for being a pessimist is true to Indian soil when considering the sheer numbers when transferring the 3% of the addicted population to a figure. This magnitude is further accentuated when we consider the general apathy of administrators to ensure a drug-free society even after 32 years of Drug de-addiction Programme 1986 of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare but the solutions can only be found by being optimistic.
The right time to prevent drug abuse is before the addiction begins. But since the country has a sizable burden of drug use, it is crucial to have a multi-layered and multi-pronged response, with a judicious mix of supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction approaches. International organizations like UN agencies, local NGO’s and peer educators could play a catalytic and facilitator’s role in this regard. A public policy whose goal is strengthening preventative and reformative system, and which encapsulates the above dimension is the need of the hour.
After all WE HAVE ONLY THIS MOMENT. THE VERY NEXT MAY BE TOO LATE.