Drug Demand Reduction as Preventive Policy in India

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PIB Feature on International Day Against Drug Abuse

New Delhi, Junw 26, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio / PIB-India) Over the years, drug addiction has become an area of concern as traditional moorings, effective social taboos, emphasis on self-restraint and pervasive control and discipline of the joint family and community are eroding.

The processes of industrialization, urbanization and migration have led to loosening of the traditional methods of social control rendering an individual vulnerable to the stresses and strains of modern life. The fast changing social milieu, among other factors, is mainly contributing to the proliferation of drug abuse, both of traditional and of new psychoactive substances.

The introduction of synthetic drugs and intravenous drug use leading to HIV/AIDS has added a new dimension to the problem.

Scenario in India

About 0.3 per cent of our total population is the victim of different kinds of drug usages, excluding alcohol dependents. Such population comes from diverse socio-economic, cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds. The use of dependence-producing substances, in some form or the other, has been a universal phenomenon. In India also, the abuse of alcohol, opium and cannabis had not been entirely unknown.

India is the biggest supplier of licit demand for opium required primarily for medicinal purposes. Besides this, India is located close to the major poppy growing areas of the world, with "Golden Crescent" on the Northwest and "Golden Triangle" on the North-East. These make India vulnerable to drug abuse particularly in poppy growing areas and along the transit/trafficking routes.

A Welfare Approach

With recognition of drug abuse as a psycho-socio medical problem, which can be best handled through community based interventions, Demand Reduction has emerged as the pillar of drug control strategies in the recent years.

Keeping the aforesaid approach in view, the Government has a three-pronged strategy for demand reduction consisting of:

·               Building awareness and educating people about ill effects of drug abuse Building awareness and educating people about ill effects of drug abuse

·               Dealing with the addicts through programme of motivational counselling, treatment, follow-up and social-reintegration of recovered addicts.

·               To impart drug abuse prevention/rehabilitation training to volunteers with a view to build up an educated cadre of service providers.

The objective of the entire strategy is to empower the society and the community to deal with the problem of drug abuse.

Treatment and Rehabilitation of Addicts

The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, as the focal point for drug demand reduction programmes in the country, has been implementing the Scheme for Prohibition and Drug Abuse Prevention since the year 1985-86. As implementation of programmes for deaddiction and rehabilitation of drug addicts require sustained and committed/involved effort with a great degree of flexibility and innovation, a State-community (voluntary) partnership appears to be particularly strong mechanism for service delivery. Accordingly, under the Scheme, while major portion of the cost of services is borne by the Government, the voluntary organisations provide actual services through the Counselling and Awareness Centres; Deaddiction cum Rehabilitation Centres, Deaddiction Camps, and Awareness Programmes.

Under this Scheme, the Ministry is assisting 361 voluntary organisations for maintaining 376 De-addiction-cum-Rehabilitation Centres and 68 Counselling and Awareness Centres all over the country. All Centres are equipped with a cadre of experts from various fields including doctors, counsellors, community workers, social workers etc. Thus, it is a multi-disciplinary approach being applied according to the needs of individual cases. They work in coordination with the community resources as well infrastructure and services available under other related agencies.
To facilitate the medical treatment of hard-core addicts who require intensive long-term medical attention, 100 Deaddiction Centres are being run in Government hospitals/Primary Health Centres, etc.

Awareness and Preventive Education

The Counselling and Awareness Centers are engaged in a wide range of awareness generation programme in varied community settings including village panchayats, schools etc. Besides these Centers, the Ministry has been actively utilizing the various media channels, print as well as audio-visual for educating the people on the ill effects of drug abuse and also disseminating information on the service delivery.

Training and Manpower Development

The Government has established a National Centre for Drug Abuse Prevention (NC-DAP) under the aegis of the National Institute of Social Defence, New Delhi, to serve as the apex body in the country in the field of training, research and documentation in the field of drug abuse prevention.

To meet the growing demand of rehabilitation professionals in the country, the Centre has been conducting three months' Certificate Course on Deaddiction Counselling and Rehabilitation of Drug Abusers. The Centre has been conducting advocacy programmes, seminars, conferences and training courses all over the country in collaboration with the State Govt. Institutions and NGOs for sensitisation, awareness generation and training.

Inter-Sectoral Collaboration

The problem of alcoholism and drug abuse is a social malaise and is dealt holistically by targeting all spheres of human activity. The Government of India has been following an integrated approach involving all concerned Ministries and Departments who could complement and supplement the initiatives being taken by each other. The initiatives being taken include imparting education on drugs and positive alternative to the youth through appropriate modification in school curriculum and sensitisation of school environment. Programmes are being developed for the sensitisation of the teachers, parents and the peer groups in a school environment through the participation of the Non-Government Organisations. The cooperation of the media and various youth organisations has also been solicited for dissemination of information on ill effects of alcohol/drugs and in engaging the community in positive/healthy alternatives.

Available Government infrastructure and services have been integrated with the services offered by the NGO sector for dealing with associated health problems such as TB, HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis etc. Efforts are also being made to provide the medical professionals in the health sector with the knowledge on rehabilitation and after-care of alcohol and drug dependents. Simultaneously, steps have been initiated for providing training to the NGO professionals on various medical inputs for providing effective service to the clients. One of the successful initiatives towards inter-sectoral collaboration has been the integration of HIV/AIDS prevention programme into the substance abuse programme of 100 NGO run Deaddiction Centres supported by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.

International Cooperation

The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, in collaboration with the International Labour Organization and UNODC, implemented a project on "Developing Community Drug Rehabilitation and Workplace Prevention Programmes", to sensitise and train the voluntary organisations and workplace settings on prevention of alcoholism and substance abuse in workplace. It is viewed that the work environment of an individual is the most important area of preventive intervention for a potential addict as he still enjoys economic security. The loss of a job further aggravates the addictive behaviour. This aspect was not getting its due importance under the on-going programme. With the sincere efforts made under the project, a number of corporate institutions have also volunteered their involvement in the project.

This was followed up with two community-based interventions in collaboration with UNODC and ILO, namely:

1.            Community Wide Demand Reduction in India

2.            Community Wide Demand Reduction in North-Eastern States of India

These initiatives were primarily addressed towards strengthening the delivery of services through capacity building of the service providers, developing infrastructure for decentralization of programme monitoring at the regional levels, developing networking and linkages amongst the NGOs, the concerned agencies and the Government as well as sister UN organisations drawing upon the experience gained in the earlier project. The project for the Northeast was specifically designed keeping in mind the local customs, cultural traditions, community bonding as well as infrastructural inadequacies. The projects have adopted a comprehensive approach to the development of the target communities of these States.

Thus, Drug Demand Reduction as a Preventive Policy has been successful in terms of Quality Assurance and Minimum Standards, Professional Manpower Development, Networking of Service Providers, Focused Interventions for Vulnerable Targets, Inter-sectoral Convergence, etc. However, some areas still need to be strengthened.  These are:

·               Information linkage

·               Better & personalised data management

·               Research on usage of indigenous methods of treatment both in medicinal & therapeutic

·               Accelerated awareness campaign

While all round efforts are being made for prevention and containment of drug abuse in our society, a long journey is yet to be covered before we can draw some satisfaction. The problem having transnational causes and implications shall require herculean efforts on the part of all the institutions. The empowerment of society through sensitisation and awareness is the only solution to support the efforts of enforcement agencies in containing the proliferation of drug trafficking and drug abuse.

Inputs from Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India

 

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