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Naidu urges states to set up special cells to combat the menace of drug abuse

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu Wednesday urged states to set up special cells and appoint "sincere and dynamic" officers to combat trafficking of drugs and its abuse in the country.
Stressing on the need to launch special campaigns targeted at vulnerable groups like school and college students to make them aware of the deleterious effects of drugs he sought increased community participation and public cooperation in reduction of demand for narcotics.
The Vice President was speaking at an event organised by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on the occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking.
"Youngsters from lower socio-economic strata need to be targeted as they are highly vulnerable and prone to various high-risk behaviours. To prevent addiction at an early stage, the focus has to be on sensitizing parents, teachers and of course the students," Naidu said.
He said parents and teachers should be counselled while isolation and stigmatization would only aggravate the problem and would be of no help for a person from overcoming addiction.
"Addiction should be treated as an illness and those who have turned towards substance abuse need to be counselled, rehabilitated and treated with care and affection," Naidu stressed.
The Vice-President commended the ministry for coming up with a National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction and said the foundation needs to be laid at school level to make children aware of the harm caused by drug abuse to an individual and the society at large.
"I would also like to appeal to NGOs, engaged in rehabilitation of those addicted to substance abuse, to treat them humanely and enable them to become productive members of the society. I would also urge the corporate sector to earmark funds for such activities under CSR," he said.
Both, the government and the civil society have an onerous responsibility to ensure that potential victims are made aware of the perils of drug abuse and make them remain impervious to the temptations of drugs, Naidu said.
"It is really quite alarming that some drugs are potent enough to make a person addicted even after a single use. Likewise, I am told that use of therapeutic drug for intoxication is becoming a major challenge," he said.
It is estimated that globally around 275 million people, in the age group of 15-64, used drugs at least once during 2016. According to WHO, in 2015 roughly 4,50,000 people died as a result of drug abuse and of these, 1,67,500 deaths were due to drug use disorders (mainly overdoses).
According to data provided by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, over 200 tonne of drugs, including opium (4,127 kg), heroin (1,213) and cannabis were seized in 2018. That year, 52,027 people, including foreigners, were arrested.
"Any intoxicating substance, be it alcohol or drug or volatile inhalant, can lead to dependence and its harmful use can cause substantial morbidity and mortality," Naidu said, adding heavy alcohol consumption induced by addiction is found to cause early onset of heart diseases, stroke, cirrhosis of liver and cancer.
"I would like to appreciate the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment's efforts in conducting the National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in 2018 to ascertain the proportion of Indian population using various drugs and those affected by substance-use disorders.
"The survey revealed some disturbing trends -- about 3.1 crore individuals use cannabis products and 2.26 crore people use opioids. Having authentic information on the extent and pattern of substance use in India is a significant first step in planning an effective strategy to address and resolve this serious social health problem in India," he said.
Union Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment Thaawarchand Gehlot mentioned that the ministry has identified some high-risk districts which require special attention in increasing community participation and public cooperation in reduction of demand for dependence-producing substances.
These programmes include community-based peer-led intervention for early drug use prevention among adolescents and youth and outreach and drop in Centres.
"Through these programmes, youth would be trained as peer educators to lead peer-led community intervention and implement early prevention education especially for vulnerable adolescents and youth in the community," Gehlot said.
He also flagged off the "17th Run Against Drug Abuse" at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium in the national capital.

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First Published: Jun 26 2019 | 8:30 PM IST

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