Drug abuse: Another Punjab study too pegged it at 70%

Even as it is busy shredding to pieces a study,which Congress general secretary quoted while saying that seven out of 10 youth in Punjab do drugs,another report based on a survey done on behalf of the state government in 2009 had also found that drug addiction in the state “could be as high as 70 per cent”.

Written by Chitleen K Sethi | Chandigarh | Updated: April 17, 2014 5:54 pm

Even as it is busy shredding to pieces a study,which Congress general secretary quoted while saying that seven out of 10 youth in Punjab do drugs,another report based on a survey done on behalf of the state government in 2009 had also found that drug addiction in the state “could be as high as 70 per cent”.

While Rahul had quoted from the study conducted by the Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) in 2006, the other survey was conducted four years after the Department of Health and Family Welfare commissioned the Institute for Development Studies (IDC) to study drug abuse in the border districts — Amritsar,Tarn Taran,Gurdaspur and Ferozepur. The IDC submitted its report in March 2010.

The study conducted by Prof RS Verma and Vaishali Misra chose two border tehsils from each district and based their study on interviews and information generated from a sample of more than 1,500 drug addicts.

The report stated that of those doing drugs,75.8 per cent were from 16-35 year age group and included 3 per cent who were six to 10 years old. As many as 85.6 per cent of the addicts were matriculates while agriculturists (37%) and labourers (27.5%) made the other big groups.

In the caste wise break-up,it stated that 33 per cent drug addicts (in the study sample) were Jat Sikhs,33.9 per cent belonged to scheduled castes,10.7 per cent from upper castes while 17.8 per cent were OBCs. Religion wise Sikhs constituted 67.7 per cent of the drug abusers while Hindus made up for 25.5 per cent.

The report,however,does not venture any finding on the extent of the problem in the state. “It is not easy to study how much percentage of the total population is addicted to drugs.

It is a problem,which everyone wants to keep hidden as a stigma is associated with it,” Verma said in the report.

“But if we were to venture a guess,it could be as high as 70 per cent. If we consider alcohol intake alone,it could be 99 per cent in Punjab,” he added.

Profiling the abusers,the IDC report concluded that agriculturists preferred alcohol,opium and bhukki,whereas the labour class preferred to use pharmaceuticals,capsules and injections. “The scenario is shifting from natural to synthetic drugs – reason being easy purchase,less stigma,non violation of law and combination giving better high,” states the report.

The study recommended a three-pronged approach for controlling the problem: demand reduction,supply reduction and institutional framework.

The earlier study,conducted by Prof RS Sandhu of the GNDU,was commissioned in 2006 by the then Punjab governor Lt Gen (retd) SF Rodrigues. Sandhu based his study on a sample size of 600 substance abusers from four districts — 150 respondents from each district with 75 from a village and 75 from a city — were interviewed in order to know the rural-urban differences among the drug addicts.

The GNDU study had concluded that 73.50 per cent of the drug addicts belong to the age group 16-35 years. In the Punjab government’s 2009 affidavit to the Punjab and Haryana High Court,this finding was mistakenly used to connote that 70 per cent of the youth of Punjab were addicted. The affidavit findings,in turn were quoted by Rahul Gandhi leading to a furore.

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