Across the world there is a drug crisis, particularly among young people, and few countries are suffering more than India.
According to reports, the nation has a staggering 15.8 million children who are addicted to drugs, with experts also claiming that the number of those suffering between the age of 10 and 17 is actually likely to be more.
Many experts and charities are now calling for the government to take decisive action as the crisis continues to worsen.
The problem is largely coming with opioid abuse, just as it is in the USA, with treatment centres filling up to put young people through opiate withdrawal and set them on a pathway to recovery.
However, the availability of treatment in India is currently inadequate, particularly when you compare to the likes of the United States and UK, and that’s leading to higher levels of addiction, overdoses and deaths.
The study in itself is a major step forward, though, with it being the first time in history an effort has been made to try and document substance abuse in India, with the report finding that over 30 million people use cannabis products, with around 2.5 million of those having a dependency of it.
When it comes to opioids, which are a lot more addictive and a lot more deadly than cannabis, 22.6 million people use them, with around 7.7 million addicted and requiring help for them. To put that into context, that number of people is larger than the population of Hong Kong, as well as New Zealand and Qatar combined.
HS Phoolka, a lawyer for an India-based children’s rights movement believes that the situation is far worse than that though, stating: “There are huge numbers of children who are affected and not counted in this survey because they are addicts. Drug availability in schools and their vicinity is a problem,”
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime have also spoken out about how young people in India are continuing to face an increased risk of addiction and substance abuse too, largely down to poor mental and physical health, often a result of exploitation, sexual abuse and violence.
This is backed up by the figures, with 90% of those in India addicted to drugs starting using them prior to the age of 18.
The next 12 months are going to be critical for the Indian government to try and get the situation under control before the crisis worsens and many of this generation’s youth suffer greatly, leaving a lasting impact on the nation for many years to come.