Menace of Rampant Drug Abuse by Youth of India


“The youth of nation are trustees of prosperity.”

  • Benjamin Disraeli

Adolescence is a crucial period for the beginning and experimentation with new things. The situation of drug abuse in adolescence is becoming a global health problem and is reaching at alarming position in third world nations. As the substance abuse epidemic continues, the youth of our nation, a generation that refuses to be left out, is catching up with the epidemic (“trend”) quickly and effectively. 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.Now this youth certainly cannot be trusted to be the trustees of prosperity in the current scenario of  rampant substance abuse.


‘Substance abuse’ refers to the harmful or hazardous use of psychoactive substances,including alcohol and illicit drugs. [1]The most common substance abused are alcohol, marijuana (ganja), bhang, hashish (charas), various kinds of cough syrups, sedative tablets, brown sugar, heroin, cocaine, tobacco (cigarette, gutka, pan masala) etc. Substance abuse is also known as drug abuse.

The increasing production, distribution, promotion and easy availability of substance together with the changing values of society has resulted in rising substance abuse related problems emerging as a major public health concern in India. Despite attempts to limit access to psychoactive substances by young persons, the use of such substances is common among adult, adolescents and growing in some groups.


There is an undeniable link between substance abuse and delinquency.

Arrest, adjudication, and intervention by the juvenile justice system are eventual consequences for many youth engaged in alcohol and other drug use. It cannot be claimed that substance abuse causes delinquent behavior or delinquency causes alcohol and other drug use. However, the two behaviors are strongly correlated and often bring about school and family problems, involvement with negative peer groups, a lack of neighborhood social controls, and physical or sexual abuse[2].

 Possession and use of alcohol and other drugs are illegal for all youth. Beyond that, however, there is strong evidence of an association between alcohol and other drug use and delinquent behavior of juveniles. This increases fear among community residents and the demand for juvenile and criminal justice services, thus increasing the burden on these resources. Gangs, drug trafficking, prostitution, and growing numbers of youth homicides are among the social and criminal justice problems often linked to adolescent substance abuse

Consequences of Drug Abuse

Substance abuse leads to substance addiction with the development of tolerance and dependence. Tolerance refers to a condition where the user needs more and more of the drug to experience the same effect. Smaller quantities, which were sufficient earlier, are no longer effective and the user is forced to increase the amount of drug intake. Slowly, drug dependence develops.

Despite the enormity of the problem in India, systematic research has not been undertaken to clearly document the combined social, economic, health and psychological impact of substance abuses. However, even the limited available data indicate the association of substance abuse related problems with several spheres of life.

World wide the harmful use of alcohol results in 2.5 million deaths each year. 320,000 young people between the age of 15 and 29 die from alcohol-related causes, resulting in 9% of all deaths in that age group. At least 15.3 million persons have drug use disorders. Injecting drug use reported in 148 countries, of which 120 report HIV infection among this population[3].

Substance abuse (alcohol, tobacco and other drugs) is associated with a range of physical, psychological, social and occupational problems[4]. It is a complex problem having medical and social ramifications which impacts all social strata. It affects not only the user and their families but all sections of the society. [5]

Young people who persistently abuse substances often experience an array of problems, including academic difficulties, health-related problems (including mental health), poor peer relationships, and involvement with the juvenile justice system. Additionally, there are consequences for family members, the community, and the entire society.

Indian Laws On Drugs

The Indian Government enacted the Narcotic Drugs Psychotropic Substances Act, (NDPS Act), which did not take into account the Indian situation and its plural cultures. The NDPS Act was designed to conform to the Single Convention of 1961, which the Indian government had signed in 1964. India subscribed to the international goal of eradicating all cultural uses of cannabis within a 25 year period. Since the decision was taken without any planning, little or no attention was given to the methods used to achieve the stated goals and implications. It was adopted without much research.

The NDPS Act came into existence to envisage strict punishments for drug trafficking, to augment implementation powers, enforce international conventions that India is a party to and to regulate psychotropic substances. A predominantly punitive statute, NDPS provides for the regulation of drugs. It states that death penalty can be awarded as a form of punishment under the Act. The 2014 amendment held that the decision to award death penalty lies at the discretion of the court and instead stipulates 30 years of imprisonment as a substitute.

The concern for combatting drug trafficking amplified once the judiciary began to rely on Article 47 of the Indian Constitution, which prescribes the restriction on the use of drugs and directs the State to strive to suppress and abolish the use of drugs, except when it is used for scientific purposes.[6]

Referred to as a hasty piece of legislation that was passed under immense pressure, India’s principal law to tackle drug trafficking isn’t free from pitfalls. It lacks a clear demarcation between the definition of a consumer and an addict. The definitions in place is neither backed by laws nor by morals. The absence of any political initiative in setting up machinery authorised to regulate and enforce rehabilitation acts as a bottleneck. The paucity of associated institutions responsible for coaching the judicial machinery, the inadequate rehabilitation facilities and other such factors has furthered the incapacity of law to manage the widespread drug menace in India. The ineffective enforcement of the statute and the dearth of rehabilitative institutions has only added to the list of shortcomings. Harsh and stringent, the statute heavily encumbers the criminal justice system. Government’s mismanagement has lead to the leakage of opium produced from licit to illicit channels, which has in turn not helped with the situation of substance abuse at all.

A legislation made in haste is one of the major reasons why a situation of rampant drug abuse exists in a country like India where educated youth smoke away their education, all in wants of looking “cool”, the reason why our current generation, an educated one, does not seem to have one care about the consequences of drugs on themselves, their family and their nation.

It is, hence, high time Indian Drug Laws are sent to “rehab”

[1] WHO. Substance abuse [cited 2011 17 November] Available from:

[2]Hawkins JD, Lishner DM, Jenson JM, Catalano RF. Delinquents and drugsedited by B.S. Brown and A.R. Mills. Rockville, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse 1987.

[3] WHO Management of substance abuse: Facts and figures. [cited 2011 17 November] Available from:

[4] Pratima Murthy S. Bala Shanthi Nikketha (Editors) Introduction in Psychosocial Interventions for Persons with Substance Abuse: Theory and Practice National Institute of Mental Health And Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, India 2007, 1.

[5]Teaotia R. Joint Secretary Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India. Foreword massage in Drug use disorder Manual for physicians. Rakesh Lal (edit.) theNational Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS, India. 2005.

[6]Anshritha,“’High’ time Indian drug laws are sent to rehab”, (06 January 2017) available at

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