About 275 million people worldwide, which is roughly 5.6 per cent of the global population aged 15–64 years, used drugs at least once during 2016. Some 31 million of people who use drugs suffer from drug use disorders, meaning that their drug use is harmful to the point where they may need treatment. Initial estimations suggest that, globally, 13.8 million young people aged 15–16 years used cannabis in the past year, equivalent to a rate of 5.6 per cent.

Surveys on drug use among the general population show that the extent of drug use among young people remains higher than that among older people. The path from initiation to harmful use of substances among young people is influenced by factors that are often out of their control. Factors at the personal level (including behavioural and mental health, neurological developments and gene variations resulting from social influences), the micro level (parental and family functioning, schools and peer influences) and the macro level (socioeconomic and physical environment) can render adolescents vulnerable to substance use.

These factors vary between individuals and not all young people are equally vulnerable to substance use. Overall, it is the critical combination of the risk factors that are present and the protective factors that are absent at a particular stage in a young person’s life that makes the difference in their susceptibility to drug use.

The relationship between harmful use of substances by a parent and the substance use outcomes of a child are mediated by parental neglect which biases the developmental trajectory toward these outcomes. The risk is transmitted through both the direct effects of neglectful and poor parenting and prevailing living circumstances, such as unsupportive interpersonal relationships and disorganized households.

Media portrayals of substance use as glamorous, fun and relaxing all contribute to the initiation and continued use of psychoactive substances among young people. In essence, certain media messages can make substance use appear to be normative behaviour and can alter attitudes about the safety of substance use.

Young people are also known to be involved in the cultivation, manufacturing and production and trafficking in drugs. In the absence of social and economic opportunities, young people may deal drugs to earn money or to supplement meagre wages. In some environments, young people become involved in drug supply networks because they are looking for excitement and a means to identify with local groups or gangs.

Drug use among the older generation (aged 40 years and older) has been increasing at a faster rate than among those who are younger, according to the limited data available, which are mainly from Western countries.

Let’s talk about the drug abuse situation in our own country now. The most widely consumed drugs in India are cannabis, opioids, inhalants and sedatives, and cocaine. About 2.8 percent of Indians (3.1 crore individuals) report having used any cannabis product within the past 12 months (Bhang – 2.2 crore people; Ganja/Charas – 1.3 Crore people). States that are most affected by this problem are Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and to my pleasant surprise, the north eastern states of Manipur, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh.

In a study conducted by AIIMS in Delhi, it was reported that there are nearly 192 hotspots across the Union Territory where at least 25 street children were found during daytime. A report by BBC claims that the state of Punjab is on the verge of losing an entire generation to drug abuse. All forms of drugs are so ridiculously easily available in the state that two-thirds of the families have atleast one addict among them.

In 2019, for the first time ever, The Ministry of Social Justice studied drug abuse with intense scrutiny and published a report on the proportions, causes and future vision in respect of this matter. Well, self realisations are always a good thing, but should we expect more stringent laws as a reaction to this? And if that does come true, the poor implementation and execution will (un)successfully foil the original objectives of the legislature.

These substances cannot be done away with completely, and removed from the country, because these are also the raw ingredients essential for a lot of medicinal productions. However, there’s a need to regulate its supply and illegal smuggling.

A mysterious man sneakily enters a dingy building in the outskirts of the town, swiftly exchanges money, a little packet is handed over. Snorted, smoked, inhaled, injected and thrown. But who’s the mysterious man?

Describes the current scenario appropriately.

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