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  • Paras Sharma


Updated: Feb 5, 2021

Written by: Charulata Singh, Student, Chanakya National Law University, Patna


Drug abuse or substance use designs are famous for their capacity to change after some time. Both licit and illegal substance use cause genuine general medical issues and proof for the equivalent is currently accessible in our nation. National level predominance has been determined for some substances of misuse, yet territorial varieties are very apparent. Quick evaluation reviews have encouraged the comprehension of changing examples of utilization. Substance use among ladies and kids are expanding reasons for concern. Primer neurobiological examination has concentrated on distinguishing people at high hazard for liquor reliance. Clinical examination in the territory has concentrated essentially on liquor and substance related comorbidity. There is disappointingly little examination on pharmacological and psychosocial mediations. Course and result reads underscore the requirement for better follow-up in this gathering. While absence of an exhaustive arrangement has been over and over featured and different proposals made to address the scope of issues brought about by substance use, much stays to be done on the ground to forestall and address these issues.


Merriam Webster defines drugs as something and often an illegal substance that causes addiction, habituation, or a marked change in consciousness.[1]

Drug addiction is a chronic brain disease. It causes a person to take drugs repeatedly, despite the harm they cause. Repeated drug use can change the brain and lead to addiction.[2]

The National Household Survey of Drug Use in the country[3] is the first systematic effort to document the nation-wide prevalence of drug use. Alcohol (21.4%) was the primary substance used (apart from tobacco) followed by cannabis (3.0%) and opioids (0.7%). Seventeen to 26% of alcohol users qualified for ICD 10 diagnosis of dependence, translating to an average prevalence of about 4%. There was a marked variation in alcohol use prevalence in different states of India (current use ranged from a low of 7% in the western state of Gujarat (officially under Prohibition) to 75% in the North-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. Tobacco use prevalence was high at 55.8% among males, with maximum use in the age group 41-50 years.[4]


Drug trafficking is a global illicit trade involving the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale of substances which are subject to drug prohibition laws.[5]

Psychoactive substance use poses a significant threat to the health, social and economic aspects of families, communities and nations.[6]

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), an independent UN body tasked with monitoring the production and consumption of narcotics worldwide, said in its annual report that governments in South Asia continue to respond strongly to the threat of drug trafficking and abuse in the region.

According to UNODC, India accounts for 10 percent of the total pharmaceuticals produced in the world. In its report, it noted that the law required all drugs with “abuse potential” to be sold only on prescription, but that there was “significant diversion” from this.[7]


As the drug epidemic continues to painstakingly seep into the country’s social and cultural aspects, drug abuse naturally trickles into our younger generation – a generation refusing to be left out. Making up one-fifth of the population, 15-24 year-olds carry with them India’s future. The youth of our nation will eventually determine the country’s moral, political, and social persuasions. Bearing the burden of a densely populated country like India is no small task. And drug abuse does nothing to lighten the load.[8]

India has a huge “at risk” population vulnerable to substance abuse and addiction.[9] The children and adolescent population experiments with drugs for fun and amusement in the company of friends, particularly in the urban areas.[10] According to a prevalence study, 13.1% of the people involved in substance abuse in India are below 20 years of age. A clinic-based survey revealed that 63.6% of the substance users seeking treatment were introduced to drugs at a young age when they were 15 years or younger. As the age advances, there is progressive decline in the initiation of substance use.[11] In the recent years, the age of starting use of drugs is progressively falling across the country and the initiation of drug use occurs much earlier, being during preadolescence and childhood periods. Early initiation of drug use is often associated with poor prognosis and lifelong pattern of disturbed behavior. Drugs can have long-lasting effects on the developing brain and may interfere with positive family and peer relationships and school performance.[12]

Adolescence represents an important phase of life during which substance use behaviors become established. To prevent these behaviors from occurring, it is important to reduce the escalation to heavy drug use and intervene to address the established problematic substance use.[13]

Why is drug abuse thriving among Indian youngsters? Two convincing theories attempt to answer this question.[14] Each presents a viable explanation for the youth drug addiction. For many youngsters, rewards are chosen before consequences are considered; the scientific study may reveal the biological root causing this propensity. Their findings offer a scientific explanation as to why adolescents continue to be more vulnerable to drug abuse, alcohol consumption, and smoking.

The research team recorded the brain-cell activity of adults and adolescents as each group performed “reward-driven tasks”. The team documented their findings, and what they discovered wasn’t surprising. The electrode recordings of the adolescent brains reacted with far greater intensity to rewards than the adult’s did.

According to one report, “A frenzy of stimulation occurred with varying intensity throughout the study along with a greater degree of disorganization in adolescent brains. The brains of adult rats, on the other hand, processed their prizes with a consistent balance of excitation and inhibition.” The lead researcher, Bita Moghaddam (professor of neuroscience), said the radical difference in brain activity provides possible physiological explanation as to why youngsters are more prone to experiment with drugs.

Another is practical approach, based on peer pressure and curiosity. Usually it starts off innocently enough. Children grow older and reach the teenage and young adult stages of life. With age, the parents’ influence often diminishes, and as part of life’s natural progression, youngsters are influenced more and more by their peers. Many detailed studies have shown the worrisome aspects of peer pressure. As one of the most powerful tools used to sway youngsters towards drug addiction – peer pressure in the area of drug abuse can begin as early as junior high.

One major youth drug addiction study declares, “In India, the majority (of addicts) became hooked on drugs after friends introduced drugs to them.” The study goes on to report that an additional 35% of subjects interviewed became addicted after trying out drugs for fun and out of curiosity.[15]


While deciding a PIL filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan of Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi, the apex court, in December 2016, had issued a slew of guidelines and had asked the Centre to formulate within six months the national action plan to curb rising substance abuse cases among school children and had also ordered a national survey to gauge the extent of the menace.

While asking the governments, both at the Centre and in the states, to create awareness about the serious consequences of the drug abuse, the court had directed the Centre to include in the school curriculum the subject on harmful effects of using drugs. The PIL, filed in 2014, had sought a direction to formulate a national action plan for children on drugs and substance abuse including all issues of identification, investigation, recovery, counselling and rehabilitation. It had also sought creation of model syllabus on ill-effects of drugs and substance abuse.[16]

The bench of Chief Justice TS Thakur and Justice DY Chandrachud passed the landmark judgment directing the government to “Formulate a national policy on drug and substance abuse within six months." It also directed the government to set up de-addiction centres in every district and conduct a national survey for preparing database on drug and substance abuse among children in the country.[17]

Scientific evidence-based treatment needs to be made available for people with Substance use disorders – at an adequate scale. Considering the wide treatment gap (mismatch between demand and availability of treatment services) in the country, India needs massive investments in enhancing the avenues for treatment. Optimum allocation of resources for treatment of substance use disorders is imperative. A conducive legal and policy environment is needed to help control drug problems. Evidence-based substance use prevention programmes are needed to protect the young people. Harm reduction needs to be embraced widely as a philosophy to deal with substance use.[18]

Drug addiction is not just a social issue, it should be seen as a criminal act. On top of that, resorting to Yoga and meditation is a great avenue to channelise your energy in the right direction. Otherwise, the youth could indulge in sensory gratification. A problem as acute as drug addiction cannot be solved by a few events or initiatives. It is an ongoing process that all citizens of this country need to be a part of.[19]


The maltreatment of alcohol and drugs has brought about noteworthy dreariness and mortality among youths around the world. A considerable lot of these young will lose their lives to drug abuse and a noteworthy number are probably going to grow up to become problematic substance users. Despite the fact that, the substance misuse issue is intricate and enormous in greatness, there is a considerable measure of evidence- based examination accessible to doctors, network pioneers and schools to actualize interventions that can diminish young adult substance misuse rates.

Considering the tremendous test of substance use issues in the nation, there is an earnest need of approaches and projects which can carry alleviation to the huge number of influenced Indian residents. It is basic that these strategies and projects depend on the logical proof and think about the nearby, socio-social setting. Substance Use Disorders are plainly a huge general wellbeing worry in the nation, as apparent by the discoveries contained in this report. Counteraction endeavors start with the emphasis on the hazard variables to stay away from later substance use issues. The state of affairs is uncontrollable and yet the struggle to curb the situation is the need of the hour.

References [1] Drug, Merriam-Webster (July, 22, 2020, 08:23 AM),,Definition%20of%20drug,Food%2C%20Drug%2C%20and%20Cosmetic%20Act. [2] Drug Use and Addiction, Medline Plus, [3] Ray R. The Extent, Pattern and Trends Of Drug Abuse In India, National Survey, Ministry Of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government Of India and United Nations Office On Drugs and Crime, Regional Office For South Asia. 2004. [4] Pratima Murthy, N. Manjunatha etal., Substance use and addiction research in India, INDIAN J PSYCHIATRY, 2010 Jan; 52(Suppl1): S189–S199. [5]International Day against Drug Abuse: 72 lakh Indians need help for cannabis-use problem, India Today (July, 22, 2020, 11:05 AM), [6] Deepak Chandra, Substance Abuse (July, 23, 2020, 02:09 AM), [7] Dhani Jerajani, Drug Abuse Problem In India: Things You must Know!, Pharm Easy. [8] A Profile of Youth in India, Min of Health and Family Welfare (July 22, 07: 12 PM), [9] Child Protection and Child Rights. Vulnerable Children Affected by Substance Abuse. Childline 1098; 2008. Available from: [10] Goswami H. Substance abuse among youths at Guwahati city Assam: Major instigator and socio-demographic factors. INT EDUC RES J 2015;1:39-42. [11] Stockings E, Hall WD, Lynskey M, Morley KI, Reavley N, Strang J, et al. Prevention, early intervention, harm reduction, and treatment of substance use in young people, LANCET PSYCHIATRY 2016;3:280-96. [12] Tripathi BM, Lal R. Substance abuse in children and adolescents, INDIAN J PEDIATR, 1999;66:569-75. [13] RC Jiloha, Prevention, early intervention, and harm reduction of substance use in adolescents, Vol 59, INDIAN J PSYCHIATRY, 2017, pg 111-118. [14] Drug Abuse in India, Welcome to Azad India Foundation, [15]Drug Abuse in the Indian youth (July 24 09:46 PM), [16] Supreme Court asks Centre about steps taken to control drug abuse among children in compliance with its 2016 verdict, First Post (July 23, 07:12 AM), [17] Kamini Mehta, Court passes landmark judgement to combat drug abuse among children (July 24 ,10: PM), [18] Magnitude of Substance Use in India, 2019, (July 24, 12: 23 AM), [19]Sanjay Kumar, This Is How The Deadly Cocktail Of Drugs And Fertilizers Is Destroying Our Country (July 25, 0;16 PM),


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