Rise in Drug Abuse

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    • Recent surveys by the state Ministry for Excise highlights the rise in the drug overtake cases in Kerala.

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    • In 2022, there was a substantial increase in the number of drug-related offences in Kerala highlighting that drugs have become a major issue for the state.
    • Kerala has seen a 300% increase in drug cases over the past six years, with arrests up 90%.
    • The number of cases registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in 2022 was 26,629, a significant increase from 5,924 cases in 2016 and 9,245 cases in 2019.
    • Nearly 97% of the respondents admitted to using some form of drug with Cannabis (ganja) being the most consumed drug (82%), followed by tobacco (75.6%).
    • Recreational drugs like MDMA and methamphetamine have found a market in Kerala, with seizures of the latter spiking in 2022.
    • The report has also highlighted that cannabis is finding its way into the state from Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Bihar.

    Need to curb drug abuse

    • About: India’s location between the world’s two main illicit opium-producing regions, the Golden Crescent and Golden Triangle, has left its borders open to drug trafficking. It emanates from two fronts, the NW and NE, which pose a danger to national security and border violations, respectively.

    • Substance abuse and addiction: Harmful use of drugs or alcohol leads to physical or psychological dependence which impairs the individual’s ability to perform daily activities and makes it difficult for them to quit on their own.
    • Overdose and health consequences: Substance abuse can result in serious health problems, including overdoses that can be fatal.
    • Psychological and social impacts on the individual and their family: Substance abuse can cause emotional distress, depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems for the individual and their family.
    • Increased crime and criminal activity: Drugs are often linked to criminal behavior, such as theft, violence, and drug trafficking which pose a threat to public safety and increase the burden on law enforcement.
    • Strain on healthcare systems and resources: Substance abuse can put a strain on healthcare systems and resources, as it often requires extensive medical treatment and rehabilitation.
    • Lost productivity and economic costs: Substance abuse can lead to decreased productivity at work, absenteeism, and even job loss. It also has broader economic costs, such as increased healthcare costs and decreased economic growth.
    • Social stigma and discrimination: Substance abuse is often stigmatized, and individuals struggling with addiction may face discrimination and social isolation.
    • Difficulty in access to treatment and recovery resources: Many individuals struggling with substance abuse face barriers to accessing effective treatment and recovery resources, such as lack of affordable options, long waitlists.
    • Difficulty in effectively addressing and preventing drug abuse through education and public policy: Addressing and preventing substance abuse faces challenges in implementing effective education and public policy initiatives, such as limited funding, lack of political will, and conflicting views on the best approach.

    Major challenges in controlling the drug menace

    • High demand: The demand for drugs in India is high and is driven by a growing population of young people and an increase in disposable income.
    • Lack of effective law enforcement: Despite efforts by the government to curb drug trafficking, the porous borders and widespread corruption in India make it difficult to effectively enforce anti-drug laws.
    • Inadequate rehabilitation facilities: There is a shortage of rehabilitation facilities and resources for those struggling with drug addiction, making it difficult for them to access the help they need.
    • Stigma and discrimination: Substance abuse and addiction are often associated with social stigma and discrimination, which can prevent people from seeking help and make it difficult for them to receive the care they need.
    • Difficulty in prevention and education: Drug abuse prevention and education campaigns are often underfunded and not effectively implemented, making it difficult to reach those who are most at risk.
    • Lack of comprehensive approach: The lack of a comprehensive approach to addressing the drug problem in India, including both treatment and prevention, makes it difficult to effectively address the issue.

    Government steps to curb Drug abuse in India

    • National Drug Demand Reduction Policy: It aims to prevent and reduce drug abuse through multiple strategies including demand reduction, supply reduction, and harm reduction.
    • Rehabilitation: The government has set up multiple rehabilitation centers and de-addiction clinics to provide treatment and support to individuals struggling with drug addiction.
    • Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act(1985): It is the main legal framework in India to curb drug abuse and trafficking, and imposes stringent penalties on those involved in drug-related crimes.
    • Information dissemination: The government has implemented various public awareness and educational campaigns to spread knowledge about the dangers of drug abuse and to prevent drug use, particularly among young people.
    • Co-ordination: The government also works with other countries in the region to curb cross-border drug trafficking and to dismantle illegal drug production and distribution networks.
    • Support: The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment runs a scheme to provide financial and technical assistance to NGOs and other organizations working on drug demand reduction and rehabilitation.
    • Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN): It is the main enforcement agency responsible for implementing the NDPS Act and for conducting raids and arrests in connection with drug-related crimes.

    What can be done to curb the issue of drugs?

    • Improving access to treatment and rehabilitation: Providing access to quality addiction treatment and rehabilitation resources can help individuals overcome their drug dependence.
    • Strengthening law enforcement: Strengthening law enforcement efforts to curb drug trafficking and distribution can reduce the availability of drugs in the country.
    • Educating the public: Educating the public about the dangers of drug abuse through campaigns, public speaking, and school programs can raise awareness and discourage drug use.
    • Addressing root causes: Addressing the root causes of drug abuse, such as poverty, lack of education, and mental health issues, can help prevent people from turning to drugs in the first place.
    • Involving community leaders: Involving community leaders and organizations in the fight against drug abuse can help mobilize local resources and increase public support for drug-control efforts.
    • Encouraging alternative activities: Encouraging individuals to participate in alternative activities, such as sports, music, and community service, can provide positive outlets and reduce the risk of drug abuse.
    • Implementing effective public policy: Developing and implementing effective public policy that addresses the issue of drug abuse can help prevent drug use and support those who are struggling with addiction.
    • Researching new treatments and prevention methods: Investing in research and development to find new treatments and prevention methods can help reduce the harm caused by drug abuse.

     Source: TH