Spotlight on India’s Drug-Addiction Problemby Opinion Express February 20, 2019 0 comments
According to a comprehensive survey by the Government shows, close to 70 million Indians need help for substance abuse
A certain scale of understanding is necessary to solve any problem in India. The sheer size of India’s makes the scale of any problem huge. Any issue might seem small in percentage terms but given a billion plus human beings in the country, the problem, even when it is a fraction of a per cent, becomes huge. Ergo, the challenge before the Central and State Governments in order to solve the addiction that millions of Indians have for narcotics and alcohol, will require some major intervention. Numbers are stunning — while 14.6 per cent of India’s population drank alcohol in the past, of that number, 19 per cent are dependent or abusing alcohol, which amounts to 57 million people. The numbers for cannabis dependence are five million, opioids another six million and a few more million for other drugs. A problem of this scale cannot be solved by mere prohibition orders or ‘drug-free’ campaigns alone. It requires state intervention.
What can the state do? We feel that there should be a move to fund more de-addiction centres across the country, and not just in urban but also in district and possibly even taluka headquarters in areas where the problem is severe. But this will highlight another problem, which is the lack of enough counsellors. We need experts to advise and help those individuals, who have been addicted for decades. While it might not be possible for governments, both Centre and State, to build thousands of centres across the country, they must associate themselves with non-governmental organisations, including religious bodies, to help tackle the crisis. Like it or not, religion plays a big role in the de-addiction process for some. George W Bush, former US President, had a self-admitted alcohol problem during his youth but he found God and then went on to become the President of the United States. Of course, most addicts do not come from as privileged a background as Bush but he is an exemplar of how a life can turn around when an intervention is made. And this is also an example of one other major factor, that of family support. Many who suffer from substance abuse are ostracised by society when what they often need most is family support. Substance abuse is often a cry for help. At the same time, some families keep the abuse problem within the walls instead of actively seeking help for a family member, worried about the ‘shame’, particularly in a country like India. Asking for help is a brave thing but families must remember that doing so is in the best interests of somebody seeking redemption. This will also require education and awareness. In fact, instead of trying to just tell the youth ‘don’t’, the Government should tell families that they should reach out to helplines if they need help. Then there is that beautiful hypocrisy in the alcohol problem. Since State Governments make so much revenue from liquor sales, for them to give up the liquid lucre will be impossible. This is a challenge that will require some innovative thinking as well.
Courtesy & Writer: Pioneer