40 lakh Indians in age group 10-17 use opioids: Minister

NEW DELHI: As high as 40 lakh children and adolescents (age group 10-17 years) in India use opioids and 30 lakh are addicted to alcohol, the government said on Tuesday. In a written reply to a question from a Lok Sabha member, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Rattan Lal Kataria said 30 lakh children in that age group use inhalants (for pleasure) according to the data of a 2018 national survey on substance use.

He said 20 lakh each use cannabis and sedatives, four lakh amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS), two lakh each use cocaine and hallucinogens. Among adults (age group 18-75 years), 15.10 crore are addicted to alcohol, 2.90 crores to cannabis, 1.90 crores to opioids, 1.10 crore to sedatives, 60 lakh to inhalants, 20 lakh each to ATS and hallucinogens and 10 lakh use cocaine, he said.

There were wide variations in the extent and prevalence of substance use in different states and between various substances. He said his ministry was implementing a national action plan for drug demand reduction (NAPDDR) for 2018-2025 with a multi-pronged strategy.

NAPDDR’s activities include holding awareness programmes for students, seminars with parents, community-based interaction with vulnerable adolescent and youth, treatment facilities for addicts and capacity building of service providers, he said.

Opioids are a class of drugs that include heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription, such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine and morphine. ATS include amphetamine and methamphetamine used for psychotropic purposes.

A hallucinogen is a psychoactive agent which causes hallucinations, perceptual anomalies, and other substantial subjective changes in thoughts, emotion, and consciousness. The common types of hallucinogens are psychedelics, dissociatives and deliriants. PTI