Growing menace

The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, observed on Thursday, has seen the challenges and tasks it is meant to highlight more daunting than ever in the past.

The UN has in the last 25 years considered it as an occasion to strengthen international action and co-operation to achieve a society free of drug abuse. Drug abuse is a threat to the health of people and even the stability of economies and societies. Unfortunately, in spite of the widespread campaigns and actions against drug abuse, its prevalence has been increasing every year. The war drugs are waging against the human body and mind, is in fact more damaging than the political and other wars in many parts of the world. It is necessary to win this war and the day is a reminder of that.

The UN drug report has estimated that about 160 million people are addicted to drugs all over the world and about 50 million of them are in Asia. People from the poorer countries are worse affected than others. Countries like Afghanistan and some in South America are the major producers and exporters of drugs. There is concern over the possible spurt in drug trafficking from Afghanistan after the US troops leave the country. This is of special worry to India because drug abuse is already at alarmingly high levels in Punjab, which has active supply lines from Afghanistan. Drug cartels control politics, business and even governments and they form extensive international crime syndicates. The money from illicit trading and trafficking also finds its way into terrorism and other dangerous activities. The parallel economy of drugs and narcotics is worth trillions of dollars.

The fight against drugs should first and most seriously be fought in the campuses of schools and colleges because that is where the habit takes hold of young people. In spite of all the rules and regulations drugs are easily available to those who seek them near the campuses or anywhere. The drives against trafficking are such that only the small fry–the retailer and the petty pedlar–are often caught while the big fish get away. There are not enough de-addiction centres and those that are need to improve their working. Only sustained campaigns involving the highest international agencies and the smallest local organisations and co-ordinated actions across countries and at various levels can fight the threat from drugs.

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