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The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking Day is observed annually on 26 June. The decision to mark the day was taken on 7 December 1987 through a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly in order to strengthen global action and cooperation to achieve its aim of making the international society free of drug abuse. 

This year’s theme ‘Health for Justice, Justice for Health’ emphasises that justice and health are “two sides of the same coin” when it comes to addressing the problems associated with drugs.


In February 2019, AIIMS submitted its report “Magnitude of Substance Use in India” to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Key highlights of the report are:

  • Alcohol is the most abused substance in India.
  • Around 5 crore Indians reported to have used cannabis and opioids at the time of the survey (conducted in the year 2018).
  • It has been estimated that there are about 8.5 lakh people who inject drugs.
  • Of the total cases estimated by the report, more than half of them are contributed by states like Punjab, Assam, Delhi, Haryana, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Uttar Pradesh.
  • About 60 lakh people are estimated to need help for their opioid use problems.

More and more children are taking to alcohol consumption and the highest percentage of children who are addicted to alcohol are in Punjab followed by West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

India is vulnerable to narcotic drug trafficking as it is located between two largest Opium producing regions of the world i.e. Golden Crescent in the west and Golden Triangle in the east. Drug trafficking and abuse also pose serious threat to our societies.

The most common drugs of abuse are ‘ganja’, ‘hashish’, ‘opium’ and ‘heroin’. The abuse of pharmaceutical preparations like ‘buprenorphine’, codeine based cough syrups and painkillers like ‘proxivon’ has also assumed serious proportions. In certain regions of the country, drug abuse has already become a severe social-economic problem affecting the vulnerable age groups.


  • Sometimes students tend to get into drugs if they are in a technical institute (medical or engineering), because of their studies or work pressure.Such students are generally alone and away from homes, therefore to cope up with all the stress around them, they end up using drugs.
  • Also, students coming from other states find it difficult to cope up in metropolitan cities like Delhi.
  • It is generally seen that an unemployed youth, out of frustration, ends up in taking drugs.

Peer pressure and other psychological factors can cause teens to engage in risky behaviours, leading to substance abuse.

  • Youth can get attracted to the glamour attached to drug taking.
  • Sometimes also, out of fun or in order to experiment,a youth ends up in taking drugs.
  • When children see their elder ones consuming drugs, they also try to do the same.

Suffering and deprivation: People in the lower income group who cannot have an adequate amount of food, take drugs to sleep or relax.

Drug subculture that is prevalent in the country.

Flaws in the legal system:

  • The cause behind drug menace is the drug cartels, crime syndicates and ultimately the ISIwhich is the biggest supplier of drugs.
    • Rave partieshave been reported in the country where intake of narcotic substances is observed.
    • These parties are orchestrated by the drug syndicateswho have their own vested interests.
    • Social media plays an important role in organising these parties.
    • The police have not been able to control such parties.

Smuggling of drugs through the states like Punjab, Assam and Uttar Pradesh which share the border with neighbouring countries

Normal food products like noodles, pan masala and gutka laced with drugs are sold to school and college students.

The African as well as the South-Asian route being misused to bring drugs into the country.


  • Rampant irregularities and torture of inmates are prevalent at New Delhi’s de-addiction centres.
  • An inspection report submitted by Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLSA) revealed how inmates are being ill-treated, subjected to sexual and physical torture, asked to perform sexual favours, and not allowed to contact their families.
  • Most of the centres do not have adequate infrastructure, including toilets and ventilation.
  • The report also alleged some inmates have allegedly died from the torture they were subjected to.
  • The right of basic human dignity of persons desperately in need of care and treatment is being violated with impunity.
  • Violations of fundamental rights to life, liberty and dignity, as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution.
  • There are unauthorised and illegally run centres, charging money and subjecting such persons to inhumane and degrading treatment.


The Government has taken several policy and other initiatives to deal with drug trafficking problem.

  • It constituted Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in November, 2016 and revived the scheme of “Financial Assistance to States for Narcotics Control”.
  • In 2017, the government approved new Reward Guidelines with increased quantum of reward for interdiction or seizure of different illicit drugs.
  • For effective coordination with foreign countries, India has signed 37 Bilateral Agreements/Memoranda of Understanding.
  • Narcotics Control Bureau has been provided funds for developing a new software i.e. Seizure Information Management System (SIMS) which will create a complete online database of drug offences and offenders.
  • The government has constituted a fund called “National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse” to meet the expenditure incurred in connection with combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs; rehabilitating addicts, and educating public against drug abuse, etc.
  • The government is also conducting National Drug Abuse Survey to measure trends of drug abuse in India through Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment with the help of National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS.
  • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, prohibits a person to produce, possess, sell, purchase, transport, store, and/or consume any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. The NDPS Act has since been amended thrice – in 1988, 2001 and 2014. The Act extends to the whole of India and it applies also to all Indian citizens outside India and to all persons on ships and aircraft registered in India.

The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act

  • India is a signatoryto the UN Single Convention on Narcotics Drugs 1961, the Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 and the Convention on Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988 which prescribe various forms of control aimed to achieve the dual objective of limiting the use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances for medical and scientific purposes as well as preventing the abuse of the same.
  • The administrative and legislative setup in the field of Narcotics has been put in place in the country in accordance with the spirit of the UN Conventions. The basic legislative instrument of the Government of India in this regard is the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985.
  • The Act provides stringent provisionsfor the control and regulation of operations relating to narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • It also provides for forfeiture of propertyderived from, or used in, illicit traffic in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.
  • It also provides for death penaltyin some cases where a person is a repeat offender.


Drug abuse is a complex phenomenon, which has various social, cultural, biological, geographical, historical and economic aspects. The disintegration of the old joint family system, absence of parental love and care in modern families where both parents are working, decline of old religious and moral values etc lead to a rise in the number of drug addicts who take drugs to escape hard realities of life. Drug use, misuse or abuse is also primarily due to the nature of the drug abused, the personality of the individual and the addict’s immediate environment. The processes of industrialization, urbanization and migration have led to loosening of the traditional methods of social control rendering an individual vulnerable to the stresses and strains of modern life.

At the national and cross-national level, there has to be a concerted effort of all the countries in managing the issue of substance abuse, taking into account the local socio-cultural and political scenarios.

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