Monday, February 6, 2023

1.58 cr in 10-17 age group addicted to drugs: Govt to SC

A staggering 1.58 crore children aged between 10 and 17 years are addicted to substances in the country, the government told the Supreme Court today.
Citing data from a survey conducted following a top court order, it said alcohol is the most commonly used psychoactive substance by the Indians followed by Cannabis and Opioids.
About 16 crore people consume alcohol and more than 5.7 crore individuals are affected by harmful or dependent alcohol use and need help. The government said 3.1 crore individuals use cannabis products and about 25 lakh suffer from cannabis dependence, while 2.26 crore people use opioids and approximately 77 lakh individuals require help for opioid use problems.
Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, appearing for the Centre, told a bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna that following the apex court’s 2016 verdict, it had conducted a nationwide survey on the extent and pattern of substance use in India.
She said the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, in compliance with the top court’s verdict dated December 14, 2016, had completed a first of its kind national survey to generate a national database on substance use.
Senior advocate HS Phoolka, appearing for NGO ‘Bachpan Bachao Andolan’, contended that government is not complying with the top court directions issued in 2016 and has not covered all aspects in its national plan to combat substance abuse.
The bench asked Phoolka whether he is aggrieved by non-compliance of the order or if something more could have been done in the plan.
Phoolka said though the national plan has been complied with more aspects could have been covered.
The bench said it is tagging the matter with a case the court had taken up on its own which also deals, more or less, with the same issue and is being heard by the chief justice’s bench.
Bhati said various reports have been filed by different ministries in the case and agreed that the matter can be tagged with the case being heard by the chief justice. In its affidavit, the ministry said it conducted the survey through the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of AIIMS during 2018.

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