• Drug addiction among Indian youth has been on the rise, as evidenced by a 2019 government survey that highlights a concerning trend of increasing drug usage. The survey indicates a significant surge in cannabis usage, which rose from 8.7 million users in 2004 to 31 million users in the 2019 survey.
  • Several factors contribute to this alarming rise in drug abuse among young individuals, encompassing personal and family-related issues, easy availability, the allure of the “feel-good” effect, increasing social acceptability, and peer pressure.
  • Addressing this complex issue requires a collaborative effort involving the government, civil society, and families, all playing pivotal roles in combating drug abuse and ensuring a healthier future for India’s youth.


Reasons behind increasing drug usage among youth:

  • Personal and Family factors: Parental absence, lack of communication, failure in professional or love life, and other family-related challenges can lead youths towards drug abuse as a coping mechanism.
  • Easy Availability:
    • The accessibility of pharmaceutical drugs and proximity to drug-producing regions like the golden triangle and golden crescent facilitate drug availability in India.
    • The recent Taliban takeover has further increased the risk of drug smuggling into the country, exacerbating the situation.
  • Feel Good Effect:
    • The pleasurable and euphoric effects of drugs can attract young people seeking an escape from various forms of suffering.
    • Prolonged drug use can lead to dependency, making it harder for youths to break free from addiction.
  • Increasing Social Acceptability of Drugs: Mass media and celebrities’ portrayal of drug usage can influence young individuals to perceive drug consumption as socially acceptable, leading to increased experimentation.
  • Peer Pressure and Curiosity:
    • During their formative years, young people are naturally curious and more prone to trying new things.
    • If their peers engage in drug use, they are more likely to succumb to peer pressure and experiment with drugs themselves.
    • The prevalence of “party drugs,” as seen in the Aryan Khan case, highlights the influence of peer pressure on drug usage.

Role of Government in addressing drug abuse:

  • Control of Narcotics:
    • Precise enforcement of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act is essential to regulate the production, trade, and consumption of drugs.
    • However, strict enforcement must be balanced to avoid double victimization of drug abuse victims.
  • Rehabilitation:
    • Establishing drug rehabilitation centers can bridge the treatment gap, ensuring that more than 25% of drug addicts receive the necessary medical assistance.
    • Initiatives like the ‘Khelo India’ program can keep the youth physically active and provide alternative outlets to deter drug use.
  • Differentiating Use and Peddling:
    • Decriminalizing small quantity drug usage and treating drug dependents as “victims” instead of criminals can encourage more individuals to seek help and rehabilitation.
    • Shifting the focus from imprisonment to de-addiction and rehabilitation centers can yield more positive outcomes.
  • Controlling Supply:
    • Intercepting and seizing illicit drugs before they reach consumers is crucial in protecting youth from exposure to drugs.
    • Utilizing data science and machine learning can enhance drug supply control efforts.

Role of Civil Society in addressing drug abuse:

  • NGOs:
    • NGOs play a vital role in raising awareness about drug abuse, prevention, and rehabilitation.
    • Their extensive network and social connections can also provide valuable inputs for policy-making.
  • Faith-Based Institutes: Faith-based institutions can act as counseling centers, aiding drug addicts in reintegrating into society and overcoming their struggles.

Role of Family in addressing drug abuse:

  • Child-Parent Communication:
    • Open communication between parents and children can keep the youth away from negative influences.
    • Regular monitoring by parents can facilitate early interventions if any signs of drug usage emerge.
  • Shaping Attitudes and Values:
    • Families play a pivotal role in shaping the attitudes, values, and behaviors of children.
    • A strong family support system can positively impact a child’s psycho-social development.
  • Family Therapy: Involving family members in the treatment process through family therapy can yield more effective results in combating drug abuse.


  • Drug abuse poses significant obstacles to the human and social development of India’s youth, making it a critical threat to the nation’s prosperity.
  • The collaborative efforts of the government, civil society, and families are essential in controlling drug abuse and building a healthier future for the country’s youth.
  • India can draw lessons from Portugal’s experience, where the decriminalization of drug use and possession led to reduced drug prices and increased medical seeking for addicts. Such evidence-based approaches can further inform India’s strategies in tackling drug abuse effectively.
Legacy Editor Changed status to publish February 29, 2024