New Delhi: Medicines used for managingmenstrual pain and other such prescription drugs are becomingfavourites among addicts in India who are exploiting the readyavailability of pharma drugs to get their high, say experts. A report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)released recently pegs India as the largest consumer of heroinin South Asia and experts believe that there is a surge ofpharmaceutical drug abuse in the country.
"Almost 20-30 per cent of such addicts in North-Eastare already HIV positive. They are instrumental in spreadingthe menace," says Dr Muana. The growing dependency over pharma drugs has alsotrapped people in one of the most affluent states - Punjab -of the country, a state which experts say is home to anabundant supply of drugs. Ajit Singh, co-founder Vidya Mandir, an initiative foreducation and sensitisation towards drugs abuse, cites thecase of Maqboolpura near Amritsar also known as the land ofwidows where the majority of male members have succumbed toexcessive drug usage. "A compounder regularly bicycles to Maqboolpura andinjects addictive pharma drugs to people using the samesyringe. This, obviously has paved the way for an HIVexplosion." Former UNODC project member Asha points out,"This isnot just one such Maqboolpura in Punjab. There are hundreds ofsuch villages, where drugs flow in abundance." Abuse of prescribed pharma drugs is prevalent withoutgovernment and legal checks, claim experts. "Prescription drugs for pain management are usedwithout legal prescription. There is an indispensable angle ofcrime associated with drug usage. It is the prevalence ofcriminal organisations and drug mafias that is driving themarket for drugs," says Cristina Albertin, UNODC`s South Asiarepresentative. Emphasising on the measures to control the menace, DrMuana says the need of the hour is to ensure that adequateprimary interventions such as sensitising youth and empoweringthem through counselling and advocacy is required to restrainthem from drug abuse.
"Drug abuse of any sort is not an individual problem. It is a social problem as an addict can create curiosity amongnon users thereby multiplying the number of users. Acollective onus is required to curb the issue from its roots,"says Ajit Singh. "Both the Health and Family Welfare and the Ministryof Chemicals and Fertilisers should take collaborativemeasures to check the rapidly growing abuse of pharmaceuticaldrugs," adds Prasada Rao of UNAIDS. PTI
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