Three in four addicts get hooked to drugs before turning 20, says study - Hindustan Times
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Three in four addicts get hooked to drugs before turning 20, says study

By, Chandigarh
Aug 23, 2019 11:05 PM IST

Survey of 16 districts of five northern states finds Punjab and Haryana to be worst-affected

Three out of four addicts in the northern states get hooked to drugs before the age of 20 years, revealed a study done by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID).

(Representative image)
(Representative image)

The study carried out in 16 districts of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) found that 65% of addicts in these five states start taking drugs between the age of 15 and 20 years and 10% get into the habit by the time they turn 14. Another 18% get hooked to drugs between the ages of 21 and 25 years.

54% ADDICTS FROM RURAL AREAS

Drug addiction is more prevalent in rural areas. Of the 2,706 drug addicts surveyed between February 2017 and July 2019 for the study, 54% belong to rural areas with a majority of them being from the farming and labourer households and the remaining 46% are from urban areas. Between 60% and 75% of drug users are from general castes as agrarian distress and unemployment is quite high among these sections, according to the study.

The study titled “Dynamics of Drug Addiction and Abuse in North-West India: Social, Economic and Political Implications” has been conducted by Prof Ranjit Singh Ghuman, Dr Gurinder Kaur and Dr Jatinder Singh for the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR). It covered eight districts — Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Moga, Sangrur, Mansa and Bathinda — in Punjab and two each in the remaining four states.

PUNJAB IN TIGHT GRIP

Lead author Prof Ranjit Singh Ghuman of CRRID said the problem is more serious in Punjab followed by Haryana, HP, J&K and Rajasthan (in that order). “The state is a transit route because of its proximity to the global “Golden Crescent” drug route (Pakistan-Afghanistan-Iran) and has become a consumer base due to easy availability of drugs,” he said, quoting the findings of the 371-page report.

Drugs have been a scourge in Punjab for a long time and became a major poll issue in the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 state assembly elections. A study by the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, in 2017 had found that close to 3 million Punjabis were dependent on heroin, opium, cannabis or some other kind of substance.

There have been reports of alarming increase in the number of drug addicts in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh in the past three to four years. The chief ministers of seven northern states held a joint conference here last month on combating the menace of drugs and agreed to share intelligence as well as take up a proposal to establish regional drug dependence treatment centre in the tricity with the Central government.

97% ADDICTS ILLITERATE OR DROPUTS

The CRRID study has found that 97% of the addicts are either illiterate or have not gone to college. While 20% of them are illiterate, 27% studied up to class 8 and 50% have not studied beyond class 12. “Peer pressure, unemployment, consumption of intoxicants by elders in the family, easy availability of drugs, distribution of intoxicants by political parties during elections and patronage by political parties are responsible for drug addiction and abuse,” it said. Besides pharmaceutical drugs such as Tramadol (opioid-based painkiller) and Buprenorphine (used for treatment of drug addiction), the most commonly consumed drugs are heroin, opium and “bhukki” (poppy straw).

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