Drug addicts in five states including Punjab are spending up to Rs 2,000 a day for buying and consuming narcotics with over 70 per cents of the addicts falling in the age group of 15 to 35 years, a study has revealed. The study sponsored by the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) identified peer pressure, unemployment and easy availability of drugs as some of the key factors behind the drug menace that, it said, poses grave threat to the social, economic and political stability of the society.
The study was conducted by the Chandigarh-based Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development on the topic of 'Dynamics of Drug Addiction and Abuse in North West India: Social, Economic and Political implications.'
It covered 16 districts of five states -- Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir and was conducted among 1,140 drug addicts and 1,566 households.
It considered only those drugs such as heroin, opium and 'chitta', which have been banned under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act.
It commenced in February 2017 and its 371-page report was submitted to the ICSSR in July this year.
The drug menace was one of the major political issues in the 2017 assembly elections in Punjab and after coming to power in Punjab, the Congress-led government even set up a special task force to curb the drug menace.
Giving details of the major findings of the study, CRRID Professor R S Ghuman said addicts end up spending Rs 200 to Rs 2,000 a day on drug consumption, while the the cost of their treatment varies from Rs 5,000 to Rs one lakh.
About 72 per cent of the addicts were in the age group of 15-35 years and four per cent in the age-group of 17 years, the study said.
As per the study, 65 per cent of addicts started taking drugs when they were between 15 to 20 years of age while 18 per cent fell prey to the menace when they were 21 to 25 years old.
The study identified peddlers as main source of the drug supply and heroin, opium, poppy husk and pharmaceutical drugs like tramadol and buprenorphine as key narcotics consumed by the addicts.
The problem of drug abuse seemed more serious in rural areas with 54 per cent of addicts belonging to villages, the study said.
In rural areas, majority of addicts belong to cultivators' and labourers' households, it added.
The study also found that as per popular perception, the drug menace owes its sustenance to a nexus between some political leaders, drug smugglers and police in the drug trade.
Among the major recommendations of the study, it emphasized upon the need of preventive, punitive and curative measures to tackle the menace.
‘Drug menace is the manifestation of deep-rooted distortions in the socio-cultural, economic and political system. Being systemic and multi-dimensional, its solution shall have to be systemic and multi-pronged,’ the study report said.
‘There is an urgent need to understand the complexity of the problem having far-reaching social, economic and political implications. There is a need to address all these factors responsible for drug menace in the region as punitive measures alone cannot uproot this menace,’ it added.
The study recommended generating gainful employment, cutting supply chain with punitive and preventive measures and counselling drug addicts and bringing them into mainstream as solution to the drug menace.