Essays On Drug Abuse And Illicit Trafficking

June 26 is celebrated as International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking every year. It is an exercise undertaken by the world community to sensitize the people in general and the youth in particular, to the menace of drugs. The picture is grim if the world statistics on the drugs scenario is taken into account. With a turnover of around $500 billions, it is the third largest business in the world, next to petroleum and arms trade. About 190 million people all over the world consume one drug or the other. Drug addiction causes immense human distress and the illegal production and distribution of drugs have spawned crime and violence worldwide. Today, there is no part of the world that is free from the curse of drug trafficking and drug addiction. Millions of drug addicts, all over the world, are leading miserable lives, between life and death.

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India too is caught in this vicious circle of drug abuse, and the numbers of drug addicts are increasing day by day. According to a UN report, One million heroin addicts are registered in India, and unofficially there are as many as five million. What started off as casual use among a minuscule population of high-income group youth in the metro has permeated to all sections of society. Inhalation of heroin alone has given way to intravenous drug use, that too in combination with other sedatives and painkillers. This has increased the intensity of the effect, hastened the process of addiction and complicated the process of recovery. Cannabis, heroin, and Indian-produced pharmaceutical drugs are the most frequently abused drugs in India. Cannabis products, often called charas, bhang, or ganja, are abused throughout the country because it has attained some amount of religious sanctity because of its association with some Hindu deities. The International Narcotics Control Board in its 2002 report released in Vienna pointed out that in India persons addicted to opiates are shifting their drug of choice from opium to heroin. The pharmaceutical products containing narcotic drugs are also increasingly being abused. The intravenous injections of analgesics like dextropropoxphene etc are also reported from many states, as it is easily available at 1/10th the cost of heroin. The codeine-based cough syrups continue to be diverted from the domestic market for abuse

Drug abuse is a complex phenomenon, which has various social, cultural, biological, geographical, historical and economic aspects. The disintegration of the old joint family system, absence of parental love and care in modern families where both parents are working, decline of old religious and moral values etc lead to a rise in the number of drug addicts who take drugs to escape hard realities of life. Drug use, misuse or abuse is also primarily due to the nature of the drug abused, the personality of the individual and the addict's immediate environment. The processes of industrialization, urbanization and migration have led to loosening of the traditional methods of social control rendering an individual vulnerable to the stresses and strains of modern life. The fast changing social milieu, among other factors, is mainly contributing to the proliferation of drug abuse, both of traditional and of new psychoactive substances. The introduction of synthetic drugs and intravenous drug use leading to HIV/AIDS has added a new dimension to the problem, especially in the Northeast states of the country.

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Drug abuse has led to a detrimental impact on the society. It has led to increase in the crime rate. Addicts resort to crime to pay for their drugs. Drugs remove inhibition and impair judgment egging one on to commit offences. Incidence of eve- teasing, group clashes, assault and impulsive murders increase with drug abuse. Apart from affecting the financial stability, addiction increases conflicts and causes untold emotional pain for every member of the family. With most drug users being in the productive age group of 18-35 years, the loss in terms of human potential is incalculable. The damage to the physical, psychological, moral and intellectual growth of the youth is very high. Adolescent drug abuse is one of the major areas of concern in adolescent and young people's behavior. It is estimated that, in India, by the time most boys reach the ninth grade, about 50 percent of them have tried at least one of the gateway drugs. However, there is a wide regional variation across states in term of the incidence of the substance abuse. For example, a larger proportion of teens in West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh use gateway drugs (about 60 percent in both the states) than Uttar Pradesh or Haryana (around 35 percent). Increase in incidences of HIV, hepatitis B and C and tuberculosis due to addiction adds the reservoir of infection in the community burdening the health care system further. Women in India face greater problems from drug abuse. The consequences include domestic violence and infection with HIV, as well as the financial burden. Eighty seven per cent of addicts being treated in a de-addiction center run by the Delhi police acknowledged being violent with family members. Most of the domestic violence is directed against women and occurs in the context of demands for money to buy drugs. At the national level, drug abuse is intrinsically linked with racketeering, conspiracy, corruption, illegal money transfers, terrorism and violence threatening the very stability of governments.

India has braced itself to face the menace of drug trafficking both at the national and international levels. Several measures involving innovative changes in enforcement, legal and judicial systems have been brought into effect. The introduction of death penalty for drug-related offences has been a major deterrent. The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, were enacted with stringent provisions to curb this menace. The Act envisages a minimum term of 10 years imprisonment extendable to 20 years and fine of Rs. 1 lakh extendable up to Rs. 2 lakhs for the offenders. The Act has been further amended by making provisions for the forfeiture of properties derived from illicit drugs trafficking. Comprehensive strategy involving specific programmes to bring about an overall reduction in use of drugs has been evolved by the various government agencies and NGOs and is further supplemented by measures like education, counseling, treatment and rehabilitation programmes. India has bilateral agreements on drug trafficking with 13 countries, including Pakistan and Burma. Prior to 1999, extradition between India and the United States occurred under the auspices of a 1931 treaty signed by the United States and the United Kingdom, which was made applicable to India in 1942. However, a new extradition treaty between India and the United States entered into

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MEMO/08/439

Brussels, 26 June 2008

The 26th of June International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking

The 26th of June International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was established by the United Nations in 1987. In its 2006 edition, the UNODC launched an anti-drugs campaign entitled "Do drugs control your life? Your life. Your community. No place for drugs."

This three-years campaign focuses on different aspects of drug control: drug abuse in 2007, drug cultivation and production in 2008, and illicit drug trafficking in 2009. The campaign's goal is to raise people's awareness and mobilize support for drug control. The campaign only focuses on drugs subject to control, as specified in the three multilateral drug treaties that form the backbone of the international drug control system, which include amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), coca/cocaine, cannabis, hallucinogens, opiates, and sedative hypnotics.

The UNGASS process

The international drug control system, based on three main Treaties, has been in continuous evolution since 1961. June 1998, when the 20th UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) convened in New York to debate the world drug problem, marked a critical new juncture in the global fight against drugs and set the agenda for international drug control on the eve of the 21st century, on the basis of three key documents: a political declaration, the declaration on the guiding principle of drugs demand reduction and a five-part resolution with action plans to enhance international cooperation. In adopting the political declaration, UN Member States committed themselves to achieving measurable results in reducing the illicit supply and demand for drugs by 2008. They were also asked to adapt their national drug strategies accordingly and report to the CND (UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs) on their progress in meeting UNGASS targets. Monitoring instruments were developed.

The UNGASS debate is taking place since then, the objective being that the international community would assess the efficiency of the system in place and the measures taken – based on objective data and evidences- and will decide on the follow-up to the UNGASS 1998 process and on the future of the international counternarcotics system during the high-level segment of the 52nd CND in 2009.

The EU has constructively participated in the UNGASS debate and working groups and, since September 2007, has been working on a common position to be on the table for the 2009 CND, thus demonstrating to be a fundamental actor in the world's fight against drugs and that the "European model" is efficient and a good example to follow.

The EU framework for drug policy - evaluation of the action plan/the new action plan

The EU Drugs Strategy (2005-2012) endorsed in December 2004 by the European Council, is an integral part of the multi-annual programme "The Hague Programme' for strengthening freedom, security and justice in the EU[1]". It is based on the fundamental principles of EU law and upholds the founding values of the Union: respect for human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, solidarity, the rule of law and human rights. It aims to protect and improve the well-being of society and of the individual, to protect public health, to offer a high level of security for the general public and to take a balanced, integrated approach to the drugs problem.

The Strategy sets the framework, objectives and priorities for all drug-related activities in the EU by means of two consecutive four-year Drug Action Plans to be brought forward by the Commission. Implementation of most of the activities is the responsibility of the Member States; the Community plays a coordination role and has a complementary role (e.g. in public health) or a specific mandate on some issues (e.g. prevention of the diversion of chemical precursors used for the manufacturing of illicit drugs and the prevention of money laundering).

Depending on historical background, traditions and development patterns in the drug market, drug use and the health and social harms associated with drug dependence varies between Member States. Nonetheless, all EU Member States have formulated and implemented national drug policies that – with different levels of success – seem to be increasingly successful in reducing the most serious health and social damages associated with drug use.

The EU Drug Strategy (2005-2012) continues to be the overarching framework for the on going evaluation of the current EU Action Plan on Drugs (2005-2008) and for a new EU Action Plan on Drugs covering the period from 2009 to 2012. The new EU Action Plan on Drugs covering the period from 2009 to 2012 together with the conclusions of the final evaluation are to be presented in the Communication on an EU Action Plan on Drugs (2009-2012), which is scheduled for adoption in September 2008.

Eurobarometer 233- Young people and drugs

The objective of the Eurobarometer survey is to study young citizens' attitudes and perceptions about the issues of drugs. Interviews were conducted to over 12,000 randomly selected young people (15-24 years –of- age) in the twenty-seven Member States of the European Union by telephone interviews between 14 May and 18 May 2008, around the following questions:

Becoming more informed about illicit drugs and drug use: Almost two-thirds (61%) of young people in the EU27 who responded said they would use the Internet to get information about illicit drugs and drug use in general; only in Cyprus and Greece did figures fall below 50%. There was a great similarity across Member States, with many young people opting for similar sources (the Internet, a friend, parents, a health professional or drugs counsellor). These preferences would be at the expense of potential contact with the police, social workers and a telephone helpline. However, despite the above findings, which referred to methods that theoretically might be used, the Internet (35%) was not actually the channel most frequently consulted to find out about drug-related issues. More use was made of media campaigns (46%) and school prevention programmes (39%).

Perceived health risks of using drugs: The young people that participated in the survey made a distinction between the health risks of using heroin, cocaine and ecstasy and the risks of using cannabis. Between 81% and 96% of respondents thought heroin, cocaine and ecstasy pose a high risk, while almost 41% of young people thought cannabis pose a high risk, and 43% thought cannabis poses a medium risk, somewhat similar to the risk perceived with tobacco smoking. Of the respondents, 70% thought the smoking of tobacco poses a medium to low health risk, while 75% thought alcohol poses a medium to low risk. For ecstasy and cannabis, Czech respondents stood out with only 37% and 17%, respectively, associating high health risks with these illicit drugs. Young Czechs thought tobacco (20%) and alcohol (18%) posed a slightly higher risk than cannabis (17%). Romanians were the most likely to say that alcohol or tobacco, (37% and 42%, respectively), posed a high health risk.

How should society's drug problems be tackled: The 15-24 year olds in the survey seem to support the EU's balanced approach in drug policy by advocating tough measures to be taken against drug dealers and traffickers (63%) but also advocating “soft” measures to be used against drug users, e.g. through information and prevention campaigns (47%) and the treatment and rehabilitation of offenders (33%) as opposed to tough measures against drug users (23%). Exceptions were Estonia, Latvia, Hungary and the Netherlands, where tough measures against drug users were considered to be more effective than treatment and rehabilitation.

To ban or regulate illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco: There was a consensus that heroine, cocaine and ecstasy should continue to be banned: 97% for heroin, 95% for cocaine and 94% for ecstasy. Only a very small minority would regulate one or more of these substances (3% for heroin, 4% for cocaine and 5% for ecstasy). However there were major differences in opinions relating to the use of cannabis: two-thirds (67%) of young people wanted to continue the ban and 31% wanted to bring in regulation, similar to what is custom for alcohol and tobacco. When asked if cannabis should continue to be banned young people in Romania, Sweden, and Cyprus supported a continued ban on cannabis (91%, 89%, and 84% respectively). On the other hand, respondents e.g. from the Czech Republic, Netherlands, Spain and the UK said the sale and consumption of cannabis should be regulated (53%, resp. 52%, 41% and 40%).

Access to illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco: Among all respondents, heroin was seen to be the most difficult illicit drug to obtain followed by cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis. Among 35% of them considered cocaine to be easy or very accessible, with high accessibility in Ireland (58%) and the UK (51%) and the lowest availability in Finland (9%) and Romania (19%). Cannabis was considered to be the most easily accessible: nearly two out of three respondents (63%) thought it would be fairly easy to very easy for them to acquire cannabis, with greatest availability in Spain (85%), the Czech Republic (83%) and Denmark (73%) and lowest availability in Cyprus (38%), Finland (38%) and Sweden (42%). Moreover 72% of 15-18 year-olds thought it would be easy to very easy for them to get hold of tobacco compared to 87% of 22-24 year olds and more than nine out of 10 respondents in all Member States (except Cyprus) said it would be easy for them to obtain alcohol, only 83% of respondents in Cyprus said it would be easy.

The 15-18 year-olds were the ones thinking it would be very or fairly difficult for them to get hold of illicit drugs, while the 19-24 year-olds most often expected it to be very or fairly easy to obtain them. Moreover, just under half (47%) of rural residents said it would be very difficult to acquire heroin, compared to 39% of urban residents and 40% of metropolitan residents.


[1] COM (2005) 184 final, 10.5.200

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