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The Rising Threat: Drug Menace in India - A Comprehensive Analysis

Drug Menace in India
Drug Menace in India

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The drug menace encompasses a broad spectrum of substances, from illicit narcotics (Cannabis, Opioids, Cocaine etc.) to prescription medications, each possessing the capacity to ensnare individuals in a cycle of addiction, despair, and often, tragedy. At its core, the drug menace represents a multifaceted challenge, intertwining issues of public health, social welfare, economic stability, and law enforcement. It preys upon the vulnerabilities of individuals and communities, exploiting societal inequities, systemic weaknesses, and lapses in governance.

As per the National survey on Extent, Pattern and Trends of Substance 2018, Drug menace primarily contributed by consumption of 8 different types of substance as listed below.

According to World Drug Report 2022, India has the fourth largest quantity of opium seized in 2020 at 5.2 tons and the third-highest amount of morphine was also seized in the same year at 0.7 tons

According to the World Drug Report 2021, prescription drugs and their ingredients or 'precursors' are being increasingly diverted for recreational use in India--the largest manufacturer of generic drugs in the world. India is also linked to shipment of drugs sold on the 19 major darknet markets analyzed over 2011-2020.

2.Reasons for existence of problem

2.1 Geographical Factors

Drug menace in India is contributed by its geography. India is one of the world's single largest opiate markets in terms of users and would likely be vulnerable to increased supply, because India is sandwiched between the two largest Opium producing regions of the world that is the Death triangle on one side and the Death crescent on the other.

2.2 Social factors

There are several socioeconomic factors that make young people more prone to drug and alcohol abuse. The use of intoxicants by the adults in the family has a significant impact on the attraction of youth to other substances and intoxicants.


One of the main causes of drug and alcohol addiction is peer pressure.


I spoke with a high school teacher in Punjab specifically, and she said that seven out of every forty students use drugs in his class. Although the school administration has taken strong measures to discipline the indulgent pupils, no progress has been made, as kids continue to discover ways to use drugs in the classroom. Teenagers' introduction to intoxicants was also significantly influenced by their parents' decision for their son, their strained relationship, their failure in a romantic connection, and other circumstances.

2.3 Economic Factors

In addition to the social variables already discussed, there are a few significant economic factors as well, like unemployment and cheap money, or money obtained quickly and dishonestly. While underemployment, inhumane working conditions, low-paying jobs (working poor), economic hardship, hazy future prospects, and dissatisfaction are all significant contributing factors to drug addiction, unemployment may not always be the direct cause. In a socioeconomic setting that is so “enabling,” substance abuse becomes appealing to teenagers and young adults.


The socioeconomic ability and initiative of drug users, their families, and society as a whole are all hampered by substance addiction and misuse, which ultimately hinders the economic growth of homes, society, and the nation. It places an unwarranted financial strain on families, society, and the government, which has a negative effect on law and order, governance, and the health care system. The impact on both external and internal security is significant due to the issue of narco-terrorism. The nation’s social, economic, and political stability are significantly impacted by the drug problem.

3. Steps taken to combat

To regulate and prohibit the manufacture, distribution, possession, and consumption of drugs. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act of 1985, the Drugs and Cosmetics Act of 1940, and the Prevention of Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (PITNDPS) of 1988 are just a few of the legislation that the government has passed.


Institutions including the NCB, the Customs Department, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), and others were established by the government. These organizations work in tandem with other national and international bodies to enforce drug legislation. In addition, the NCB participates in several bilateral and international programs, including the SAARC Drug Offenses Monitoring Desk (SDOMD).


The National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR) and Nasha Mukt Bharat are only two of the many initiatives and projects that the government has started. These programs treat and rehabilitate drug users while also preventing drug misuse. The NAPDDR uses de-addiction, rehabilitation, capacity building, and awareness-raising to lower drug demand. The NMBA seeks to educate schoolchildren about the negative effects of drugs.

4. Gaps in current solutions

The management of drugs in India is fraught with difficulties. To effectively combat drug trafficking and abuse, there is a shortage of skilled individuals, specialized equipment, and appropriate infrastructure. In India, the use of novel psychoactive substances is increasing. Since these compounds are frequently not included by current drug control legislation, it is challenging for law enforcement to properly regulate them. The NCB claims that there is a growing trend in the use of bitcoin and the "dark net" for illicit drug sales. In 2020, 2021, and 2022, the agency investigated 59 such incidents. Particularly in rural regions, there is a dearth of knowledge and instruction regarding the risks associated with drug usage and addiction. India has a sizable population, and the country's strong drug demand feeds the drug trade. In Indian society, drug addiction is still heavily stigmatized, which makes it challenging for sufferers to get support and treatment.

5. Recommendations

Several steps need to be implemented to effectively combat the drug problem in India.


1. Bolstering the enforcement of the NDPS Act and PITNDPS Act by arming law enforcement organizations with sufficient funding, expertise, and cutting-edge gear. enhancing agency collaboration and building a more capable system of intelligence collecting and surveillance to successfully stop drug trafficking. 

2. Enhancing the accessibility of reasonably priced treatment and rehabilitation centers for substance abusers and expanding public awareness efforts to inform individuals about the risks associated with drug misuse and the need of getting assistance.

3. Putting more of an emphasis on breaking up drug supply chains through stronger border security, cutting-edge technology, and increased international collaboration.

4. Enhancing collaboration with surrounding nations, particularly those in the Golden Triangle and Golden Crescent, in order to successfully combat drug trafficking.

5. Enhancing collaborations to share knowledge and best practices with global institutions like Interpol and the UNODC.

6. To detect and track drug trafficking networks, track drug movements, and spot trends linked to drug misuse and trafficking, big data, analytics, and artificial intelligence are to be used. 

7. Drones and satellites can be used to monitor, identify, and give high-resolution photos of suspected drug cultivation regions. Provide a mechanism for citizens to report drug misuse and trafficking operations online.

Meet The Thought Leader

Vamsi is a mentor at GGI, and has a diverse background that includes being a former McKinsey employee and a graduate of IIT Madras. He possesses a broad skill set encompassing strategy and operations, gained from his various roles and industry exposure.

Meet The Authors (GGI Fellows)

Madan is a working professional. He is a Chartered Accountant. Deriving business knowledge from his CA journey & intellectual links from his stint at UPSC Civil Services exam. He is interested in strategy consulting roles. Always up for discussions on geo-politics & philosophy over a cup of tea.

If you are interested in applying to GGI's Impact Fellowship program, you can access our application link here.



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