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Priyanka Shahani, from K.C. Law College.





“Police Raid: Found 2 kilos of Cocaine at the house of famous movie star Mr. Kh…….” Now that i have your attention, you must be no stranger to such headlines in the news since it has been a hot topic in the country for a while. The topic on drugs has always been a sensitive issue but yet it is backed up with controversies and these controversies are backed up with various theories. These theories might even be your tea time gossip, but before you invest so much time in gossiping or even trying to make up these theories have you ever thought about the impact it is creating on the society? Or what a horrible example are you setting up for the future and your children? Ever wondered with every theory or controversy you talk about somewhere someone is getting an idea to try at least one kind of substance to know what the whole ‘talk’ is about?


Our society believes in various taboos, while some taboos are questionable the others might have a long history that does not have to be repeated. One of the taboos were talking about is the consumption of Drugs. This rebellious nature of the people has made India the country where Drugs of all Kinds have been the most consumed, but why? Is it because it is not legal? Or is it because it’s dangerous for the one consuming? Well whatever the reason is this rebellious attitude sure has consequences that the society is dealing with in Todays day and time.


Drug abuse and Crime an age old phenomenon and an vicious cycle that India is no way far from, this cycle is a negative connotation as one of India’s harshest social problem how consumption of drugs is so common in India[1]. Substance abuse like alcohol, cannabis and other forms of drugs is prevalent in the society and it’s a friend to many in the country[2].


What is Drug abuse?


Drug abuse a complex problem which is a process of misuse of drugs or also known as  substance use disorder, a pattern of using psychotropic substances that lead to various health destructive issues. Drug abuse is a significant factor for physical and psychological problems with a variety of symptoms that depend of which kind of drug is consumed in how much quantity. There are cases when a regular drug use can turn into drug abuse as its thin line that gets blurred most of the times. While the amount or the number of times drug have been consumed does not necessarily means abuse but any problems that derive from the consumption can be called drug abuse.

Consumption of drugs is not only an addiction for some but a relying factor in life, it’s like a coping mechanism for some who need it desperately to energize themselves or help them be stable it is this time when the actual abuse starts when they use any sought of drugs including prescription drugs like cough syrup, pain killers, ointments, cleaning fluids etc. To relieve pain, reduce stress and other problems. Most part of drug abuse may start to socially fit oneself the knowledge of drugs can start from a social circle which could then want them to indulge in a desire to consume more which could give way to abuse. At present Drug abuses is complex in nature and so are the serious crimes linked to it like human trafficking, money laundering etc. Even though drug abuse may decrees your memory but it still does not solve problem caused. According to the National Crime Records Bureau a report of 2009 and 2010 said that narcotics of Rs 19.51 crore and Rs 17.05 crore was sized.


Every problem needs a solution even if the problem is as big as the problem of drug abuse, this stigma in the country needs concrete preventive measures. Article 47 of the Constitution of India states the prohibition of misuse of drugs by the state and yet the country is facing an undeniable problem of drug abuse. A detailed study shows that Indians  consume almost any substance for “kick” they get from it be it alcohol, hard drugs or even inhalers, but there are certain substances that are most common like; Alcohol an toxic substance consumed by almost 16 crore Indians and its states like Chhattisgarh, Tripura, Punjab have majority consumers. After alcohol its Cannabis usually called marijuana or bhang, ganja again a plant based substance consumed by almost 3.1 crore people and it’s most popular among the youngsters and most prevalent Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.  Harsher substances are being consumed also known as Opioids or Narcotics which include opium, Heroin, codeine, morphine, cocaine etc which have an adverse effect directly on the nervous system and it’s most dangerous to the human clan. According to the UN report what started off as something casual among social groups has now resulted in with 1 million heroin addicts registered in the country.


With India having the highest consumption of drugs it also has the highest drug trade making it the hub for drug trafficking in the whole continent. While the market of drug trafficking expanding and having the rich involved its market value is $500 billion a year and is the third largest after the petroleum and arms trade and it continues to grow with a high demand for both natural as well as synthesized drugs. [3] According to health practitioners, socio legal experts are of the view that with demand reduction one can pave ways for working towards substance addiction.


Drug Abuse and Crime


The relationship between Drugs and crime is complex but the question which of it comes first? The answer is both. Yet both lead to a detrimental impact on the society from illegal production of drugs to supply of drugs further it leads to an increase number of crimes in order to buy those drugs and it is proved that the criminal behavior precedes the onset of drug taking. Drugs usually start building a impair in the mind of a person with an egging

judgment giving rise to more crimes. It is proved that narcotic addicts are involved in certain criminal behavior on a daily than anyone who is not and tend to commit more offences some of which they are not even aware of committing. This evident social problem shows that the magnitude of the crime is not limitless anymore it has now extended to addicts committing serious offences. The problem seems to be more unmanageable with the addiction culture being embedded in the society.


The history with narcotic criminals has been prevalent since a long time but as years pass their ways of committing crime has changed. In the early 1900’s addicts used to commit petty crimes like robbery, shoplifting, purse snatching, breaking into cars, congames etc which were of a nonviolent nature and usually they did this for money to buy a bag of the drug they needed. In the mid 1900’s the process of prostitution started which have been a great source of income for bunch of female population and less discriminant. At present the nature of the crime has become more rigid, use of violence and firearms with lack of skill this kind of violence shows that cost of the drugs have increased and quality has reduced. There was a fun fact by researchers that the drug addicts who were arrested for committing crime of nonviolence and fewer offensives in nature were the ones consuming some high quality and ‘pure’ drugs than the ones committing offensive crimes.


There are several risk factors that play a role in combined crime and drug use, Psychopharmacologically the behaviors have an cultural stereotype that suggests any person using drugs which excites them always results in violent behavior as the psychoactive substance triggers the violent behavior.


Acts and Laws related to Drug abuse


In the beginning of the 19th century pharmaceuticals were being traded from abroad the drug industry did not exist, it was the first world war that changed the whole trade system and increased the demand for swadeshi goods. The demand of these goods sprang and so did the manufacturing by both Indian and foreign entities, in the course of time the pharma industry started manufacturing material at a cheaper rate just to compete with foreign goods resulting them in being of inferior quality and harmful for health . This was bought to the government’s attention to look into this matter and introduce legislation which would control the manufacturing, distribution of these goods.


During the First and Second World War the government realized that stricter laws were needed to curb the drug manufacturing and distribution India. In 1930 the Dangerous Drugs Act was enacted to have control over the distribution and sale of drugs derived from coca, cannabis, the same legislation prevails in giving certain definitions for other psychotropic drugs like opium, cocaine, hemps etc. Later The Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1940, was adopted to regulate the sale and manufacturing of drugs having medicinal values and those drugs include cannabis, marijuana etc. Other legislations like The Pharmacy Act, 1948, The Drugs and Magic (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954, The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, The Medicinal and Toilet Preparations (Excise Duties) Act, 1956, The Drugs (Prices Control) Order 1995 (under the Essential Commodities Act) were adopted to regulate the use of drugs in the country. Article 47 of the Indian Constitution gave a new dimension to the Indian drug laws which started prohibiting the consumption of these drugs except for medicinal purpose even the Directive Principles of the state policy justified drug provisions which included other legislations like The Industries (Development and Regulation) Act, 1951, The Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 1958, The Indian Patent and Design Act, 1970, Factories Act 1948 which looked at the sale, distribution of pharmaceuticals and other drugs in India. The Concurrent list has also placed matters on Drugs and poisons for the center and state to act on it.


Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 [4] along with Convention on Psychotropic Substances, 1971 and the Convention against illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances has given the Indian government a grace period to strictly adhere to these legislation and make certain drugs beneficial for medicinal purpose available in India. Being it a political sensitive issue the government had to give into these international conventions and to eliminate the ethical use of drugs. Furthermore after following this legislation the government decided to implement and pass the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 on 14th November 1985 replacing the Dangerous Drugs act. The Act was enacted to provide penalties for drug trafficking strengthen enforcements and enforce control over psychotropic substances. Certain amendments were made and it prohibited the production of sale, purchase, convention of these substances. The most recent incident which happened to be one of the leading narcotic cases handled by the Narcotics Control Bureau was the suspected drug abuse in the Sushant Singh Rajput Death case[5] this case was the perfect example on how grave the situation of drugs can be.


In India the NDPS Act continues to criminalize the drug abuser making an victimless crime[6] an offence and till date the data shows that around 50,000 cases are in the charge sheets, 7227 are convicted, 15959 are under trail, this number which may even wary are under the NDPS Act[7]. When an individual is booked and later presented in court to plead guilty then released on bail, that individual comes back to the society and start abusing drugs again. This way that individual increases recidivism so how is the NDPS helping the society?


Children and Drug abuse


We have already figured that drug abuse is one of the biggest threats to society but there lies a deeper problem on how drug abuse is a bigger problem among children. Drug and alcohol consumption is most common among children be tobacco, marijuana and even cocaine, it has also been reported that taking drugs through injection or even snorting is something that is very common among children. We all know that drug addiction has become very common in India from the last two decades and something more alarming is that it has become very common among street children, working or trafficked children. It has been difficult to assess the problem as these children are far away from the societal intervention and they are the hidden population that are not looked after therefore it becomes difficult to have access to their problem and hence provide treatment. There are certain numbers that talk about how drug abuse among children[8]. Is common but why is it? There are a number of reasons why it can be from curiosity, to recreation to need to cope with stress. Drug abuse and addiction leads to a complex set of social, medical, economic problems with serious implication that they not consider.


Solution to the Societal Cost of drug abuse


There are so many regulations that are working in order to curb drug abuse in India but what we actually need is the laws and policies to provide with treatment solution and harsh laws for providing the service rather than subjecting them into the criminal justice system. The NDPS should priorities treatments rather than punishments as their efforts have been fruitless over the years. The number of treatment centers in the country is very less that’s almost shameful, there should be a plan laid out by the government to open more rehabilitation centers at both national and state level. Enhancing these centers and making sure they are well equipped with the best staff is also important, this does not mean that punishments should not be given. Treatment centers should be included in the criminal justice system via treatment in jails or community based treatment for offenders. The government should strictly monitor these centers too as there may be times that these people are mishandled just because they are ‘ill’ and no kind of human rights violation should take place.


Another very important step can be taken is awareness and antidrug abuse schemes or program in societies and in schools. NDPS should include a clause which provides measure for just steps to be taken. Schools especially should work on these programs closely as drug abuse is very common in children, it is the responsibility of the school and parents to teach them and protect them from the evil. Furthermore it is obvious that the work towards rehabilitation centers is a work in progress. This step is not some other that can be achieved overnight, the service has multiple needs and various procedures. This initiative is to get the attention of various stakeholders drawn from the government, civil society and community in general to create a dialogue for a sustainable model to curb the problem of drug abuse in the country. The plan of action in sustainable model should look like;


·       When a drug case is bought to the police station the police should bring it to the notice to the rehabilitation center with the reference of a social worker you can examine the case do the necessary documentation and examinations. After all the work is done then the offender should be assigned a rehab center for detoxification under the guidance of the social worker.

  • The social worker will be constantly following up and updating the concerned police station along with the family of the offender, the social worker with the offender networks with others from the rehab center after completing detoxification.
  • After completion of treatment the social worker as well as the police will help the offender find work, if the offender is already employed an official letter will be sent to the work place for leave for treatment.
  • Lastly it is important to build a community where one can inspire and great awareness with the problem of drug abuse including the benefits of rehab. The social worker later can follow up on the recovered and help in building a drug free community.


In conclusion Crime theories are interesting until they start bothering us in our daily lives, drug abuse is one such crime that does hamper our normal living be it for the one who’s consuming it or someone’s dear ones who’s bothered by their consumption. It’s time we as a society start to take matters like this which bother us in our hands and start putting some pressure on the government regarding their doings. Every law that is implemented is not a success but we are the ones who got to make it successful. While legalization of drugs is far off in India atleast the process to curb the demand of drugs should be of great importance.  More interventions, strategies and models should be put on the table and worked on if these can help the society even a little bit then it’s a win-win situation for all.


[1] Frontline, 22(17), August 13-26 (2019)

[2] As per the report of UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Ministry of Social Justice, millions of Indians are dependent on psychotropic substance


[3] NCB Annual Report 2015, Chapter no. 1, Pg no. 5

[4] In India, until 1985 Cannabis were legally sold and were commonly used for recreational purposes. India unflavored the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961) that was proposed by the United States under the law against all drugs.


[6] the drug consumer is the victim as well as the convict also known as victimless crime

[7] Table 4.3, page no 124, Crime in India, NCRB, 2019

[8] According to a nationwide survey spread over 13 states by the NGO Prayas in association with the Ministry of Women and Child Development and other organization, 32.1% children, below the age of 18, have tasted alcohol, bhang, ganja, heroin or other form of narcotics. It reveals also that 70.3% of those kids have been first exposed to one or the other form of drugs by their friends and relatives, 11.7% by their parents. According to other recent data, among those involved in drug and substance abuse in India, 13.1% are below 20 years. A survey reveals that of the children who came for treatment to various NGOs, 63.6% were introduced to drugs at a young age below 15 years. Overall 0.4% and 4.6% of total treatment seekers in various states were children.

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