The 'Toll Free National Drug Helpline' was launched by the Minister for Social Justice Empowerment, Smt. Meira Kumar in Delhi today on occasion of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. She said that this helpline would come handy to all of us particularly to youth to combat this menace of drugs. She informed that the Ministry of Social Justice is undertaking a national survey through National Sample Survey Organisation to gather authentic data on nature and extent of the problem of drugs in our country. Initially NSSO will be conducting pilot study in selected districts all over the country, which will be followed by National Household Survey. This survey would provide much needed information for a holistic planning for drug abuse prevention.
Smt Meira Kumar said that the Ministry has also set up a National Centre for Drug Abuse Prevention in the National Institute of Social Defence for capacity building of service providing NGOs. NISD has built partnerships with Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan, the largest youth network in the country and field communicators of Directorate of Field Publicity. She also said that the issue of drugs needs to be addressed frontally and comprehensively. The Ministry has initiated a number of programmes to contain the menace of drugs. We are supporting over 350 de-addiction centres and over 40 counseling centres all over the country. Capacity of 200 centres have been augmented with support from NACO to effectively deal with drug-driven HIV and AIDS. However, a complex societal problem that drug abuse has become today, it requires a larger partnership, She added.
The Minister further said that the serious concern is the linkage of drug abuse with HIV and AIDS. Injecting Drug Use is a very efficient mode of HIV transmission. Though it does not contribute more than 2.4% to the pandemic pool, South Asia has the largest IDU population in absolute numbers. Instances of injecting drug use are reported to be on rise in India too. She also informed that every year a theme is selected to mark the occasion. This year, the theme is "Do drugs control your life? Your life. Your community. No place for drugs". The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has also taken up a national level awareness programme under the slogan 'I decide, I won't take drugs'. The campaign basically targets young people explaining the consequences of drug abuse and how the individual is responsible ultimately for his drug behaviour. It also deals with stigma and discrimination issues and why it is important to openly talk about Drugs.
She said we must realize that the problem of Drugs is a global one. Drugs are linked with peace. If there is peace, then alone could you expect development that takes care of the weak and the marginalized. Drugs have connections with social-justice. A society plagued with the virus of drugs can have no opportunity appropriate enough to think about the welfare of the poor and the needy. Thus, drug is not just a psycho-social-medical issue alone. It is a more fundamental issue.