A report of the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) has painted an alarming picture on the narcotics scenario of the north-east , saying most of the injecting drug users (IDU) belonged to under-20 age group with one-third of them being unmarried and mostly male.
Women constituted only 5-10 per cent of the IDU, said the report titled 'Drug use in the north eastern states of India: monoograph' published by the UNODC.
According to it, 90 per cent of drug users were reported to be injecting in Manipur, Nagaland and Mizoram - where the IDU abuses assumed 'epidemic' proportion with a strong link to AIDS.
HIV epidemic followed the IDU syndrome as sharing of injection equipment became a norm of the drug users, it said.
The report also mentioned about equally worrying scenario among non-injecting sexual partners getting infected with HIV/AIDS in the north east.
Saying that the pattern of drug use has undergone a 'sea change' in the region during the past three decades, it said the trend changed from traditional use of cannabis and opium to smoking and injecting of heroin.
Fifty per cent of the substance users injecting drugs were reported in Meghalaya and Assam. In Arunachal Pradesh 31 per cent of such users took tobacco, 30 per cent alcohol and 4.8 per cent opium, the report said adding 20-60 per cent susbstance users were reported to have sex with sex-workers.
In its recommendations, the report called for intervention to promote safe sex among drug users. It also suggested accurate monitoring and evaluation of drug use problem of the past and ongoing interventions.