As per National Survey on Extent and Pattern of Substance Use in India, conducted by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment (MSJE) through the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, 1.46 crore children are ‘users’ not addicted to various substances in India. Nationally, there are 30,00,000 using Alcohol, 20,00,000 Cannabis, 40,00,000 Opioids, 20,00,000 Sedatives, 30,00,000 inhalants, 2,00,000 cocaine, 4,00,000 ATS and 2,00,000 hallucinogens. The extent is not known locally but it would be injudicious to rule it out that Jammu and Kashmir is least or most affected. The problem is there even real magnitude might be unknown.
As per Section 2 (14) (ix) of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 (JJ
Act), a child who is found vulnerable and is likely to be inducted into drug abuse or trafficking is included as a child in need of care and protection. The Act mandates safety net of statutory service delivery along with Institutional and non-Institutional care for the children in need of care and protection.
There is also a centrally sponsored Child Protection Services (CPS) Scheme to support children in difficult circumstances including children who are victims of substance abuse. The primary responsibility of execution of the Act and implementation of the scheme lies with the government.
Also, there is National Action plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR and its focus is placed on establishing and assisting de-addiction centres in closed settings such as Juvenile Homes and for special groups such as children in need of care and protection, through State Government. Apart from them, there is Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan (NMBA) programme which has been launched in vulnerable districts with the aim to create awareness about ill effects of substance abuse among the youth. Its special focus is on higher education institutes, university campuses and schools and reaching out to the community. The law and schemes are already there, there is a need to implement them seriously by all the concerned.
Also, under Section 78 of the JJ Act, whoever uses a child, for vending, peddling, carrying, supplying, or smuggling any intoxicating liquor, narcotic drug, or psychotropic substance, shall be liable for rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to a fine up to one lakh rupees.
Despite laws and schemes, successive governments have not been so successful to address the challenges posed by the drug problem. Along with the government, every citizen has to come forward and pay attention to this priority.