The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has drafted a five-year action plan for addressing the problem of drug and substance abuse in the country, dumping a long-pending draft policy on the matter.
The National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR), 2018 to 2023, aims to employ a multi-pronged strategy to address the issue of drug abuse. It involves education, de-addiction and rehabilitation of affected individuals and their families.
The key objective of the action plan is to create awareness and educate people about the ill-effects of drugs abuse on the individual, family, workplace and the society at large in order to integrate them back into the society.
• The action plan mainly focuses on preventive education, awareness generation, counselling, treatment and rehabilitation of drug-dependent people, besides training and capacity-building of service providers through the collaborative efforts of the Centre, state and NGOs.
• Under it, the Ministry has planned several measures, including coordination with implementing agencies for controlling the sale of sedatives, painkillers and muscle relaxant drugs and checking the online sale of drugs through stringent monitoring by a cyber cell.
• The plan also includes awareness generation through social, print, digital and online media and engagement of celebrities, besides strengthening the national toll-free helpline for drug prevention.
• It also includes holding awareness generation programmes at schools, colleges, universities, workplaces and for police functionaries, paramilitary forces, law enforcement agencies, judicial officers and Bar council among others.
• It also calls for persuading principals, directors, vice chancellors of educational institutions to ensure that no drugs are sold within or anywhere nearby the campus.
• Besides this, increasing community participation and public cooperation in the reduction of demand by involving Panchayati Raj institutions, Urban Local Bodies, Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan and other local groups like Mahila Mandals and self-help groups is also being planned under the plan.
• The plan also includes identification of vulnerable areas based on survey, skill development, vocational training and livelihood support of ex-drug addicts through National Backward Classes Finance and other Development Corporations and continuous research on drug use pattern.
• As a part of the plan, a module for re-treatment, ongoing treatment and post-treatment of addicts of different categories and age groups will be developed and database on substance use will be maintained.
• The ministry, in collaboration with the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) under the AIIMS, is also conducting a national survey on the extent and pattern of substance abuse.
A steering committee would be constituted under the chairmanship of the Secretary, Social Justice Ministry to monitor the effective implementation of the NAPDDR. The committee will be required to hold quarterly meetings.
The committee will have representatives from the Ministries of Health, Human Resource Development, Women and Child Development, Home Affairs, Skill development and Entrepreneurship, among others.
Besides, the ministry has asked states and union territories to prepare an action plan for ensuring facility of de-addiction centres in each district or as per prevalence of addiction and also establish separate and specialised de-addiction treatment centres.
The states and union territories have also been asked to ensure availability of treatment for drug dependents in prisons, juvenile homes and children homes and adopt approaches for education and prevention at all levels including schools and colleges.
The move comes after the Ministry withdrew the draft National Drug Demand Reduction Policy from the Cabinet. It had been pending for more than five-and-half years and was redrafted twice during the period.