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Tainted Love Affair: The Addicts and the De-addicts of the Urban India

“For every one woman who consumes alcohol, there are 17 alcohol using men”- (Ministry and Social Justice of India:2019 Report).

As per the recent World Drug Report report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), stunned everyone by highlighting the possible consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on Illegal Drug Production, Supply and Consumption.

A few of the key points that were highlighted in this report were as below:

§ Due to economic crisis, people might resort to illicit activities linked to drugs in order to make a living.

§ The precautionary measures taken by government in lieu of the COVID-19 pandemic- has significantly impacted the large-scale drug nexus across the nation.

§ The pandemic lockdown could hinder the production and sale of opiates in countries such as- Afghanistan that play a crucial role in production of opium.

§ The stark decline in international trade resulting from the pandemic could lead to a shortage in the supply of acetic anhydride, that is essential to manufacture heroin

§ Shortage of poppy lancers was observed in the western and southern provinces of the country, mainly due to the closure of a border crossing with Pakistan.

§ However, the lockdown has skyrocketed the demand for cannabis, given that its production often takes place near consumer markets and traffickers.

Detecting the Narco- Nexus: Challenge to the Administration

Inadequate research regarding the mechanism of drug nexus prevalent in the nation due to the lack of resources is a cause of worry for the Indian administration. Also, the sheer vastness of the country further added the challenge to the government . Furthermore, adding to this , the menace of drug abuse in the younger generation has been rising globally, including India.

Several non- profit organizations and legal agencies of the administration have been trying to curtail this particular pandemic. Substance abuse negatively impacts the academic, social, psychological, economic development and causes irrevocable damage to families of the drug user. As per their observations, the key factors that have played a crucial role in advocating the drug use amongst the youth are- education, pressure, curiosity to experiment, and unlimited availability of drugs and other illicit substances in the neighborhood.

Cognizant of this fact the vulnerability of getting infected with diseases such as HIV/AIDS, due to the sharing of needles and syringes and promiscuous behavior further complicates the narcotic trend.

In order to combat the ‘Drug pandemic’, the Government of India formulated a committee in 2019 that consisted of — The National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi who are entrusted with the responsibility to study and document substance use from all the states and UTs of the country.

Although the use of various psychoactive substances such as alcohol, cannabis and opioids has been observed in India for centuries, the current dimension of the extent and pattern of psychoactive substance use and the problems associated with their use are not well documented. In the absence of reliable and detailed information about the drug use problem in the country, it has been a challenge to formulate and implement effective policies and programmes to address drug use.

The recent tragic demise of one of a popular Bollywood actor during the month of June 2020, has now once again outraged the society regarding the narcotic nexus that has been flourishing in the country since centuries.

Rehab Centres : A Safe Haven to the urban- drug strugglers?

As per the observations by the survey agencies throughout the years, it is evident that the people who are significantly affected by the substance abuse belong either from the most marginalized or from the underprivileged strata of the society. Considering the economy of the country, the private rehab centers are extremely expensive for a considerable section of the society, and the government sponsored de-addiction programs are nevertheless devoid of adequate resources and quality. Though there are a plethora of government hospitals that offer addiction treatment and rehabilitation services, most of are overcrowded with inadequate facilities.

As per the reports approximately 70% of the de-addiction centers lack basic care facilities; due to which the chances of a relapse are quite frequent. Programmes that are facilitated by non- profit organizations often succumb to the likewise situation.

Poor Infrastructure, unskilled staff, and inability to adapt to the international standards that are prerequisite for the treatment are some of the major issues that one must factor in regarding the failure of the government-sponsored programmes.

Re-strategizing the process:

Recently, the Western superpowers such as — Germany, Switzerland, Denmark, the UK, Canada and The Netherlands approved the usage of diacetylmorphine (pharmaceutical-grade heroin) as a last-resort treatment for heroin addicts.

The exceptions regarding the usage of Diacetylmorphine are as below:
— by doctors who have the necessary permits,
— in government-approved clinics,
— to patients for whom methadone and other conventional treatments have failed.

Perhaps, the government of India and the Indian society has to collectively bring a revolutionary transformation to our way of thinking as well. Often, the people who are suffering from substance abuse are not able to freely express their ongoing struggle due to the fear of the law or because of the fear of being judged by society. Instead, of moral policing or defaming the victim shouldn’t we offer resolutions to overcome the disease?

It is a necessity of the hour that people can talk and discuss the problems related to substance abuse sin fear so that through correct guidance and with the help of on-time treatment a valuable life can be nourished and not be tarnished any further.

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