Alcohol and drug abuse has emerged as a serious concern in India. The geographical location of the country further makes it highly vulnerable to the problem of drug abuse.
In a national survey conducted in 2001-2002, it was estimated that about 73.2 million persons were user of alcohol and drugs. Of these 8.7, 2.0 and 62.5 million were users of Cannabis, Opium and Alcohol respectively. About 26%, 22% and 17% of the users of the three types respectively were found to be dependent on/addicted to them.
Article 47 of the Constitution provides that "The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health."
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, was enacted, inter alia, to curb drug abuse. Within the purview of the Act, "Narcotic Drug" means "coca leaf, cannabis (hemp), opium, poppy straw and includes all manufactured goods", whereas "Psychotropic substance" means "any substance, natural or synthetic, or any natural material or any salt or preparation of such substance or material included in the list of psychotropic substances specified in the Schedule". Section 71 of the Act (Power of Government to establish centres for identification, treatment, etc of addicts and for supply of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances) contains provisions for setting up of rehabilitation and treatment centres for addicts.
India is a signatory to three United Nations Conventions, namely: (i) Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961; (ii) Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971; and (iii) Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, 1988.
Thus, India also has an international obligation to, inter alia, curb drug abuse. The United Nations General Assembly, in its 20th Special Session in 1998, has accepted demand reduction as an indispensable pillar of drug control strategies. The demand reduction strategy consists of education, treatment, rehabilitation and social integration of drug addicts for prevention of drug abuse.
For the purpose of drug demand reduction, the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment has been implementing the Scheme of Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Drug) Abuse since 1985-86. The Scheme was revised twice in 1994 and 1999, and at present provides financial support to NGOs and employers mainly for the following items:
- Awareness and Preventive Education
- Drug Awareness and Counseling Centers (CC)
- Treatment- Cum- Rehabilitation Centers (TC)
- Workplace Prevention Programme (WPP)
- De-addiction Camps (ACDC)
- NGO forum for Drug Abuse Prevention
- Innovative Interventions to strengthen community based rehabilitation
- Technical Exchange and Manpower development programme
- Surveys, Studies, Evaluation and Research on the subjects covered under the scheme.