June 26 is celebrated as International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking every year. It is an exercise undertaken by the world community to sensitize the people in general and the youth in particular, to the menace of drugs. The picture is grim if the world statistics on the drugs scenario is taken into account. With a turnover of around $500 billions, it is the third largest business in the world, next to petroleum and arms trade. About 190 million people all over the world consume one drug or the other.
Drug addiction causes immense human distress and the illegal production and distribution of drugs have spawned crime and violence worldwide. Today, there is no part of the world that is free from the curse of drug trafficking and drug addiction. Millions of drug addicts, all over the world, are leading miserable lives, between life and death. | India too is caught in this vicious circle of drug abuse, and the numbers of drug addicts are increasing day by day. According to a UN report, One million heroin addicts are registered in India, and unofficially there are as many as five million.
What started off as casual use among a minuscule population of high-income group youth in the metro has permeated to all sections of society. Inhalation of heroin alone has given way to intravenous drug use, that too in combination with other sedatives and painkillers. This has increased the intensity of the effect, hastened the process of addiction and complicated the process of recovery. Cannabis, heroin, and Indian-produced pharmaceutical drugs are the most frequently abused drugs in India.
Cannabis products, often called charas, bhang, or ganja, are abused throughout the country because it has attained some amount of religious sanctity because of its association with some Hindu deities. The International Narcotics Control Board in its 2002 report released in Vienna pointed out that in India persons addicted to opiates are shifting their drug of choice from opium to heroin. The pharmaceutical products containing narcotic drugs are also increasingly being abused. The intravenous injections of analgesics like dextropropoxphene etc are also reported from many states, as it is easily available at 1/10th the cost of heroin.
The codeine-based cough syrups continue to be diverted from the domestic market for abuse Drug abuse is a complex phenomenon, which has various social, cultural, biological, geographical, historical and economic aspects. The disintegration of the old joint family system, absence of parental love and care in modern families where both parents are working, decline of old religious and moral values etc lead to a rise in the number of drug addicts who take drugs to escape hard realities of life.
Drug use, misuse or abuse is also primarily due to the nature of the drug abused, the personality of the individual and the addict’s immediate environment. 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. The fast changing social milieu, among other factors, is mainly contributing to the proliferation of drug abuse, both of traditional and of new psychoactive substances.
The introduction of synthetic drugs and intravenous drug use leading to HIV/AIDS has added a new dimension to the problem, especially in the Northeast states of the country. | Drug abuse has led to a detrimental impact on the society. It has led to increase in the crime rate. Addicts resort to crime to pay for their drugs. Drugs remove inhibition and impair judgment egging one on to commit offences. Incidence of eve- teasing, group clashes, assault and impulsive murders increase with drug abuse. Apart from affecting the financial stability, addiction increases conflicts and causes untold emotional pain for every member of the family.
With most drug users being in the productive age group of 18-35 years, the loss in terms of human potential is incalculable. The damage to the physical, psychological, moral and intellectual growth of the youth is very high. Adolescent drug abuse is one of the major areas of concern in adolescent and young people’s behavior. It is estimated that, in India, by the time most boys reach the ninth grade, about 50 percent of them have tried at least one of the gateway drugs. However, there is a wide regional variation across states in term of the incidence of the substance abuse.
For example, a larger proportion of teens in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh use gateway drugs (about 60 percent in both the states) than Uttar Pradesh or Haryana (around 35 percent). 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.
Eighty seven per cent of addicts being treated in a de-addiction center run by the Delhi police acknowledged being violent with family members. Most of the domestic violence is directed against women and occurs in the context of demands for money to buy drugs. At the national level, drug abuse is intrinsically linked with racketeering, conspiracy, corruption, illegal money transfers, terrorism and violence threatening the very stability of governments. India has braced itself to face the menace of drug trafficking both at the national and international levels.
Several measures involving innovative changes in enforcement, legal and judicial systems have been brought into effect. The introduction of death penalty for drug-related offences has been a major deterrent. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, were enacted with stringent provisions to curb this menace. The Act envisages a minimum term of 10 years imprisonment extendable to 20 years and fine of Rs. 1 lakh extendable up to Rs. 2 lakhs for the offenders. The Act has been further amended by making provisions for the forfeiture of properties derived from illicit drugs trafficking.
Comprehensive strategy involving specific programmes to bring about an overall reduction in use of drugs has been evolved by the various government agencies and NGOs and is further supplemented by measures like education, counseling, treatment and rehabilitation programmes. India has bilateral agreements on drug trafficking with 13 countries, including Pakistan and Burma. Prior to 1999, extradition between India and the United States occurred under the auspices of a 1931 treaty signed by the United States and the United Kingdom, which was made applicable to India in 1942.
However, a new extradition treaty between India and the United States entered into force in July 1999. A Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty was signed by India and the United States in October 2001. India also is signatory to the following treaties and conventions: * 1961 U. N. Convention on Narcotic Drugs * 1971 U. N. Convention on Psychotropic Substances * 1988 U. N. Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances * 2000 Transnational Crime Convention The spread and entrenchment of drug abuse needs to be prevented, as the cost to the people, environment and economy will be colossal.
The unseemly spectacle of unkempt drug abusers dotting lanes and by lanes, cinema halls and other public places should be enough to goad the authorities to act fast to remove the scourge of this social evil. Moreover, the spread of such reprehensible habits among the relatively young segment of society ought to be arrested at all cost. There is a need for the government enforcement agencies, the non-governmental philanthropic agencies, and others to collaborate and supplement each other’s efforts for a solution to the problem of drug addiction through education and legal actions. Drug addiction is a growing problem in India .
Defined as a disease in 1956 by the World Health Organisation and the American Psychiatric Association, drug abuse is “the illicit consumption of any naturally occurring or pharmaceutical substance for the purpose of changing the way in which a person feels, thinks or behaves, without understanding or taking into consideration the damaging physical and mental side-effects that are caused. ” The common drugs of abuse amongst children and adolescents in India are tobacco and alcohol but use of illicit and stronger drugs like cannabis, opium, or even intravenous use of drugs such as heroin have also been reported.
A new trend has emerged in drug and substance abuse with children now taking a cocktail of drugs through injection, and often sharing the same needle, which increases their vulnerability to HIV infection. Thought drug addiction has become a large phenomenon in India in the past two decades affecting all segments of society, the use of whitener, alcohol, tobacco, hard and soft drugs is an especially wide spread phenomenon among street children, working children and trafficked children but there is currently a lack of reliable data on drug abuse amongst children .
It is difficult to assess the problem, estimate social and economic costs, and design intervention strategies as these children are especially vulnerable and belongs to a hidden part of the population difficult to access that does not seek treatment and remains under-reported. However according to a nationwide survey spread over 13 states by the NGO Prayas in association with the Ministry of Women and Child Development and other organization, 32. 1% children, below the age of 18, have tasted alcohol, bhang, ganja, heroin or other form of narcotics. It reveals also that 70. % of those kids have been first exposed to one or the other form of drugs by their friends and relatives, 11. 7% by their parents. According to other recent data, among those involved in drug and substance abuse in India , 13. 1 per cent are below 20 years. A survey reveals that of the children who came for treatment to various NGOs, 63. 6% were introduced to drugs at a young age below 15 years. Overall 0. 4% and 4. 6% of total treatment seekers in various states were children. Heroin, Opium, Alcohol, Cannabis and Propoxyphene are the five most common drugs being abused by children in India . 0 million children are estimated to be getting addicted to smoking every year, and nearly 55,000 children are becoming smokers every day in comparison to 3,000 in the US . Recent available data points out that among the alcohol, cannabis and opium users about 21%, 3% and 0. 1% respectively were below 18 years. Children start on drugs for a number of reasons, from curiosity, recreation to the need to cope with stress but drug abuse and addiction lead to a complex set of social, medical and economic problems with serious implications.
Some substances present in easily available products like cough syrups, pain relief ointments, glue, paint, gasoline and cleaning fluids are directly toxic and often abused by children. Even a single session of repeated inhalant abuse can disrupt heart rhythms and cause death from cardiac arrest or lower oxygen levels, enough to cause suffocation. Regular abuse of inhalants can result in serious damages to vital organs including brain, heart, kidney and liver as well as in mental complications. Physically, the body develops also tolerance for it.
This can lead to increases in consumption, which eventually leads to physical dependence. International and National Framework International Framework Article 33 of the UNCRC (Link with the text) provides children with the right to protection from the use of drugs, and from being involved in their production or distribution. “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislative, administrative, social and educational measures, to protect children from the illicit use of narcotic drugs and sychotropic substances as defined in the relevant international treaties, and to prevent the use of children in the illicit production and trafficking of such substances. ” Some international specific Conventions exist also to prevent and prohibit drug trafficking. To read more on this general framework, please have a look on the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s website: www. unodc. org National Framework: – The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985
This act declares illegal the production, possession, transportation, purchase and sale of any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance and makes the person, addict/trafficker liable for punishment. Use or threat of use of violence or arms by the offender, use of minors for the commission of offence, commission of the offence in an educational institution or social service facility are some of the grounds for higher punishment. – The Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1988 Under this law, people who use children for drug trafficking can be booked as abettors or conspirators to the act. Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 Section 2 (d) includes in the definition of a ‘child in need of care and protection’ children vulnerable to or likely to be inducted into drug abuse or drug trafficking. Initiatives developed or that may be developed by government and non government organizations to tackle Children drug abuse Health education and awareness of the public in general and of the youngsters at school and in community is essential. Community based programs are beneficial for prevention and treatment of substance abuse among children and adolescents.
Seminars, rallies, media campaigns as well as plays and games to reach children and especially the most vulnerable of them, those living on the streets, those deprived of parental care or child labourers have been already organised but must still be developed. A national master plan for substance abuse was evolved in 1994 which focuses on the establishment of treatment and rehabilitation centres, training in substance abuse for primary care doctors and other personnel, collaborating with non-governmental organisations and carrying out education and awareness building programmes.
There are currently in India about 359 counselling centres for drug abuse prevention that also propagate awareness. The government finances also more than 50 NGOs, which are engaged in drug abuse prevention activities. A tripartite agreement between the government, ILO (Link: www. ilo. org ) and UNDCP (Link: www. undcp. org ) has been signed to help full rehabilitation and recovery of drug addicts. The government has also initiated curative programs for stopping drug and substance abuse. But all these initiatives should be reinforced and generalized across the country.
There is a true lack of drug abuse prevention and treatment services as well as a lack of psychologists and specialised professional to deal with this issue across the country. Very few specialised facilities for children exist and they are mostly attached to Psychiatric and Paediatric departments of various medical colleges and other special institutions. These also differ in their structure, functioning, and in the available therapeutic facilities and are mainly situated in urban areas. There are practically no facilities available in the rural areas to help children suffering from drug abuse.
More funding should be allocated and more facilities created to more effectively help children to recover from drug abuse. There is a real need for regional, national government and non government organisations as well as international agencies to increase their cooperation between them and share experiences. Resources Some organizations: – D-Word: this website for 11-14 years old contains information about drug abuse, games, vides and more: www. drugscope. org. uk/wip/24/index. htm – Federation of Indian NGOs for Drug Abuse Prevention: www. fingodap. org – Kids Web India : http://www. idswebindia. com/drugabuse. php – International labour organization http://www. ilo. org/public/english/protection/safework/drug/modind. htlm – National Centre for Drug Abuse Prevention : http://ncdap. nisd. gov. in/dams/ – United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) : www. unodc. org – UNODC- The global youth Network: http://www. unodc. org/youthnet/youthnet_youth_drugs. html – World Health Organisation: http://www. who. int/topics/pharmaceutical_products/en/ To find a full list of related organizations, please go on The global UNODC youth Network’s website: http://www. nodc. org/youthnet/en/youthnet_links. html Some publications: – A participatory handbook for youth drug prevention programs: A Guide for Development and Improvement: Understanding Drug Abuse/All About Drugs. www. unodc. org/pdf/youthnet/handbook_what_are_drugs. pdf – A participatory handbook for youth drug prevention programs: Full Version. www. unodc. org/pdf/youthnet/handbook. pdf – Drug abuse among street children: a study of Central Mumbai . International Institute for Population Sciences, 2001: http://www. popline. rg/docs/169311 – Prevention of the recreational and leisure use of drugs among young people. UN Economic and Social Council. 2000: www. unodc. org/pdf/document_2000-12-06_1. pdf – Street Children and drug abuse: social and health consequences: www. drug abuse . gov/PDF/Street Children . pdf – Subgroup Report on Child Protection for the 11 th Five Year Plan (2007-2012). Ministry of Women and Child Development. Drug abuse, 52-53. A vailable online : http://wcd. nic. in/wgchilprotection. pdf – Substance abuse in children and adolescents. Harpreet S.
Duggal and Christoday R. J. Khess , 2007. Available for purchase online, $32: http://www. springerlink. com/content/f522101t85114525/ – The Extent, Pattern and Trends of Drug Abuse in India : National Survey. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2004. http://www. unodc. org/india/national_Survey. html – Youth and drug abuse, a global overview. UN Economic and Social Council. 1999. www. unodc. org/pdf/document_1999-01-11_2. PDF – World situation with regard to drug abuse, with particular reference to children and youth . UN Economic and Social Council. 2000