26th June-World Drug Day

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Mahadeep Singh Jamwal

The drug’s menace stands recognized as a global problem that requires a global solution. Over the following decades, a multilateral system to control production, trafficking and abuse of drugs was developed. 26 June every year adopted by The United Nations General Assembly, on 7 December 1987, to be observed as ‘International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking’ (World Drug Day) as an expression of its determination to strengthen action and cooperation to achieve the goal of an international society free of drug abuse. These adoptions are now almost universal. Every year, various communities and organizations from around the world join forces to celebrate World Drug Day to help raise awareness about the big problem of the preponderance of illegal drugs for society. The theme of this year’s International Day against Drug Abuse is “Share Drug Facts, Save Lives” with the goal to combat misconceptions about drugs by disseminating the true facts about them, from health hazards and treatments to evidence-based prevention, treatment and care. When we walk on the landscape of India, the use of drugs like Opium, Ganja (Cannabis) and Charas (Marijuana, Cannabis Resin) were quite commonplace until the Indian Government enacted the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act in 1985. It is the tragedy of time that millions of youths, the future citizens of India, fall victim to the habit of taking drugs. Drug addiction refers to the condition of being addicted to a particular drug, particularly narcotic drugs. These are generally illegal drugs that affect the mood and behaviour of a person. The national survey on extent and pattern for substance use in India, tells us that Cannabis and opioids are the most extensively used drugs after alcohol. Roughly 2.8% of Indians claim to have used some form of cannabis products. About 2.1% of the country’s population uses opioids. 1.14% of the population abuse heroin. 0.96% of the population abuse pharmaceutical opioids. 0.52% of the population abuse opium. 1.08% of the population abuse sedatives (nonmedical, non-prescription use). 0.7% of the population abuse Inhalants. 0.10% of the population abuse Cocaine. 0.18% of the population abuse Amphetamine type stimulants. 0.12% of the population abuse Hallucinogens. We find 14.6% of the population (between 10 and 75 year of age) uses alcohol. After Alcohol, Cannabis and Opioids are the next commonly used substances in India. Nationally, the most common opioid used is Heroin. About 1.08% of 10-75 year old Indians (approximately 1.18 crore people) are current users of Sedatives and Inhalants. Inhalants are the only category of substances for which the prevalence of current use among children and adolescents is higher (1.17%) than adults (0.58%). We come across different controlling patterns over drug menace in India. Such as: The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act 1985 (NDPS Act) sets out the statutory framework for drug law enforcement in India. This Act consolidates the erstwhile principal Acts, viz. the Opium Act 1857, the Opium Act 1878 and the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1930. In order to give effect to the statutory provisions relating to these substances, an order, namely the N.D.P.S. (Regulation of Controlled Substances) Order, was promulgated by the Government of India in 1993 to control, regulate and monitor the manufacture, distribution, import, export, transportation etc., of any substance which the Government may declare to be a ‘controlled substance’ under the Act. Various enforcement agencies under the Central Government namely the Border Security Force (BSF), Customs & Central Excise, Revenue Intelligence, Central Bureau of Narcotics and the central Economic Intelligence Bureau are involved in the administration of this Act. Designated agencies under the NDPS Act to effect seizures of drugs are Narcotics Control Bureau, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, State Police, State Excise and Central Bureau of Investigations. In order to achieve the coordination of the multiple disciplines, the Narcotics Control Bureau was created under the authority of the NDPS Act, by a Government notification of March 17, 1986. The opium cultivation is licensed in India as such The National Policy on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 2012 was framed on the prevention of illicit cultivation of poppy and cannabis. Yet with these legislations and agencies in place responsible to curb drug menace, the problem is escalating. The reasons could be: firstly, India has been a country with long-standing, culturally-ingrained practices of using plant-based psychoactive substances (like opium and cannabis products), secondly, India is the single largest producer of licit opium in the world. Unfortunately, India is a happy hunting ground for drug peddlers. It may be because of the reason, it is sandwiched between the so-called golden triangle and the golden crescent. The golden triangle area comprises Thailand, Myanmar and Laos and the latter is covered by countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the United Nations agency that combats international crime related to illicit drugs and trafficking is continuously advocating to protect the right to health for the most vulnerable, including children and youth, people using drugs, people with drug use disorders and people who need access to controlled medicines and is calling on governments, international organizations, civil society, and all stakeholders to take urgent action to protect people, including by strengthening drug use prevention and treatment, and by tackling illicit drug supply. In Conclusion, I suggest that prevention programs about drug abuse need to be carried out in schools, colleges, housing societies, family clinics and hospitals. The focus should not be just on saying ‘No to drugs’, but also on how to stay healthy both in mind and body and how to deal with stress and disappointments and how to become productive members of society. The supportive efforts from individuals, communities, and various organizations all over the world, required to raise awareness of the major problem that illicit drugs represent to society to address the drug challenges in health and humanitarian crises.