Substance abuse among India's youth hits emergency levels


India officially has 15.8 million children between the ages of 10 and 17 who are addicted to drugs. Experts warn that the true number is far higher. The National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre has called for an urgent reaction to a crisis situation.

In the first comprehensive national survey of the extent and pattern of substance abuse in India, the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre found a sizeable population of young people affected by substance use disorders and in need of urgent help.

Perhaps the most serious concern is the involvement of youngsters in the range of 14-15 years of age.

The report says the capacity of the national programme for treatment of substance use disorders is grossly inadequate.

The report establishes that alcohol is the most commonly used psychoactive substance, followed by cannabis and opioids. States with the highest prevalence of cannabis use are Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Sikkim, Chhattisgarh.

The national survey was conducted in all the 36 states and union territories of the country, in collaboration with ten other medical institutes and a network of 15 NGOs.

Raft of problems

It is the first time in the history of the country that an effort has been made to study and document substance abuse. More than 1,500 personnel were involved in data collection exercise.

“Over 30 million individuals use cannabis products and about 2.5 million suffer from cannabis dependence, while 22.6 million people use opioids and approximately 7.7 million individuals require help for opioid use problems,” the report says.

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