ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Contours and Characteristics

Punjab’s Drug Problem

Younger persons have been the worst sufferers of the illicit drugs trade in Punjab. Although contrabands have spread their tentacles in all parts, the scourge of drugs has been concentrated in certain localities, clusters, and villages. The demand for illicit drugs in Punjab is largely met from outside the state through a supply network controlled by the local, interstate, and international drug traffi ckers.

The use of illicit drugs, which is concentrated among youth, has become a global problem in both developed and developing economies. According to the World Drug Report 2016 by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, a quarter of a billion people between the ages of 15 years and 64 years used at least one drug in 2014. India, sandwiched between the narco-drug producing “Golden Crescent” and “Golden Triangle” countries, is affected by drug abuse and trafficking. India is also authorised to produce opium for pharmaceutical uses. Moreover, it is “a major producer of precursor chemicals including acetic anhydride, ephedrine and pseudo-ephedrine” (INL 2013)

Punjab, situated in close proximity to Golden Crescent (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran), is considerably affected by the illicit drug menace. However, Punjab neither produces the plant-based natural substances like opium, cannabis and their derivatives, nor manufactures the precursor chemicals which are processed into synthetic and psychotropic drugs. The most distinctive feature of the demand for illicit narcotic drugs in Punjab is that it is entirely met from outside the state through a supply network controlled by the local, interstate, and international criminal gangs. For some time, certain synthetic drugs (ICE/crystal methamphetamine) were manufactured at some places in the state but the labs were dismantled. The multicrore synthetic drug rackets were unearthed in June 2012 and March 2013. Even so, the illicit drugs have wrecked many young lives representing all sections and classes of people in the urban and rural areas of Punjab. A study undertaken by the Institute for Development and Communications, Chandigarh, on drug abuse revealed that an overwhelming number (75.8%) of the sample of substance abusers (1,527) from the border districts of Punjab belonged to the age group of 15–35 years. Similarly, the “Punjab Opioid Dependence Survey (PODS),” conducted in 2015 by the Society for Promotion of Youth and Masses (SPYM), and National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, revealed that 76% opioid dependents in Punjab were in the age group of 18–35 years. Further, the study suggested that among the 18–35 years age group males in Punjab, about 4 in 100 were opioid dependents, while 15 in 100 were opioid users (PODS nd). According to some doctors, even children aged 9–16 years were hooked to drugs like tobacco, poppy husk, and marijuana (TNS 2014b).

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Updated On : 19th Feb, 2021

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