Punjab boasts to have unparalleled history which is unique in its own way. It’s a land of some of the finest saints, Sufis and martyrs who have made the Indian history proud. A land of unmatched prosperity, fertility which is home to extensive green revolution. But today Punjab is standing at crossroads. History is witness to the five rivers which give Punjab its name but today we have one more river flowing in Punjab- the River of drugs. Now around about 74 % of the entire youth population is under the canopy of drugs. State health department of Punjab points out illiteracy, unemployment and poverty as the major factors for the formation of a drug nexus in Punjab. Major cities as Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Bhatinda etc. are main centres propelling injection of drugs in entire Punjab. Thousands of peddlers can be spotted at public places selling drugs of all kind at paltry sums of around 40-50 rupees.
Drugs nexus in India is basically a cross-border phenomenon, thus making Punjab as one the busiest drug transit in the world. India shares a 553 km-long international border with Pakistan which then becomes the ideal way of smuggling drugs into the state. With various vigilance teams watching every single movement at the border, imagine how robust the network of the system is that it still manages to maintain a ‘healthy’ supply of illegal substance in Punjab.
Basically Punjab has three levels of drugs consumption phenomena. The so-called richer people can afford expensive drugs, on the other hand the poor can take cheaper things like iodex, ganja etc. One more level is the availability of the illegal synthetic drugs through chemist shops which have mushroomed all over the northern state. A smaller village in Punjab which has no school still has one such chemist shop.
Rehabilitations system for the addicts is in shambles and prisons have become a safe haven to drug junkies. Punjab has thousands of correction, de-addiction centres; but there is a turn in the story, only 23% of these centres are legal and remaining centres are as lethal as the drugs themselves. World Health Organization published a report stating the pattern of drug-users in India. It shows how bigger challenges that are making their way towards India.
Uncountable reports, studies, as well as researches are done by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India as part of their annual task of mandatory initiatives needed to combat drug abuse. They eloquently iterate their steps taken for de-addiction and rehabilitation of drug junkies. They are done with the job in their own way, so revelation like deep rooted drug-addiction in Punjab is like a bolt from the blue. Basically drug addiction is a psycho-socio problem which involves community intervention. Treatment of a drug addict is a prolonged process which needs patience and humanitarian approach. We can opt for a methodology which can have dual approach via supply reduction and demand reduction.
In a country like India, which has youth contributing tremendously to the booming economy, drug addiction can hamper the pace if it spreads widely like in the case of Punjab and other states. So we have to join our hands to save our kin who are slipping into deep chasm of drugs and rejuvenate their lives through proper counselling, medication, and above all, accepting them in mainstream social life.