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 people to the menace of drugs. The picture is grim if world statistics are taken into account. The global market in drug trafficking has an estimated annual global value of between $426 billion and $652 billion (USD), making it the second most lucrative illicit market measured after that of counterfeit and pirated goods.
Globally, some 35 million people are estimated to suffer from drug use disorders. 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.
India too is caught in this vicious circle of drug abuse, and the numbers of drug addicts are increasing day by day. It is estimated that about 850,000 Indians inject drugs, about 460,000 children and 1.8 million adults need help for inhalant dependence and 7.7 million Indians require help for opioid dependence. The prevalence of opioid use in India is three times the global average, as per the 2019 All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) study.
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.
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. Pharmaceutical products containing narcotic drugs are also increasingly being abused. The intravenous injections of analgesics like dextropropoxyphene 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.
For an individual, drug addiction can have severe consequences, these are some of the common conditions substance abuse can cause:
Drug abuse also leads to a detrimental impact on society:
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% of them have tried at least one gateway drug. However, there is a wide regional variation across states in term of the incidence of substance abuse. For example, a larger proportion of teens in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh use gateway drugs (about 60% in both the states) than Uttar Pradesh or Haryana (around 35%).
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. Around 87% of addicts being treated in a de-addiction centre 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.
The statistics for treatment available for drug addictions clearly show a big gap – 75% of the drug addicts who try quitting do not receive any treatment and the few who do get it at government de-addiction centres.
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 the 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.
A 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, counselling, 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 need 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.
1. What is illicit trafficking?
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, “Drug trafficking is a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws.”
2. What is drug abuse?
Drug abuse or substance abuse refers to the use of certain chemicals for the purpose of creating pleasurable effects on the brain.
3. What is the theme of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2020?
The theme for the 2020 International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking “Better Knowledge for Better Care” emphasizes the need to improve the understanding of the world drug problem and how in turn, better knowledge will foster greater international cooperation for countering its impact on health, governance and security.
4. What are the drugs commonly abused?
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, alcohol, cannabis, opium, and heroin are the major drugs misused in India, says the report. Buprenorphine, propoxyphene, and heroin are the most commonly injected drugs.
5. Which country is the drug capital of the world?
Iran, Afghanistan, the United States, Great Britain and Russia are countries with the most severe drug abuse problem.
6. On which day is National Anti Drugs Day observed?
National Anti-Drug Addiction Day is observed every year on 2nd October. The aim of the day is to make India free from drug and to preserve the talent.
7. What is celebrated on June 26?
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 people to the menace of drugs.
8. What is the role of the media in preventing drug abuse?
Media can play a big role in spreading awareness around drug abuse and promote healthy living. Media campaigns have been widely used for the prevention of illicit drug use in young people. They often address specific substances with the aim of reducing use and raising awareness about the associated problems.