8-year-olds taking to drugs in Punjab
A survey of Punjab’s four border districts has found shocking drug abuse among children as young as eight years old. Over 77 per cent among those surveyed were children in the age group of 11-18 who were initiated into drugs by close kin or friends.
The study conducted by the Institute for Development Communication (IDC) here also indicated that substance abuse was becoming more rampant than the traditional intoxicants and chemists and medical practitioners had become part of the drug abuse trade. At least 31 per cent of drug users admitted to purchasing synthetic drugs from medical stores despite government instructions not to sell drugs without doctor’s prescription.
Traditional drugs like poppy husk were more popular among agricultural and labour class while the young and students preferred synthetic drugs like pain killers. Eight villages in the four border districts of Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Gurdaspur and Ferozepur formed part of the survey. In Ferozepur district, the survey noted at least ten per cent of children had been initiated into drugs before the age of ten.
Children aged eight and 10 year old told the surveyors that they had taken to drugs by watching their elders.
Prof P S Verma who was part of the two-member survey team, said that peer pressure among the young was a pressing factor for the increasing trend of drug addiction among youth. The survey noted that despite several campaigns by social and religious organisations and even edict from the Sikh clergy against drug abuse, these have failed to deter the drug users whose number was multiplying each passing day in Punjab.
Even nuptial ties fail to rein in the drug addicts, the study noted as 55 per cent of all addicts were married.
Noting that most de-addiciton centres in the state were ill equipped, the study called for devising treatment programmes run at well-equipped de-addiction centres to curb the menace.