India: Stakeholders build consensus on drug use prevention strategies 

In the last decade, India has witnessed a large influx of pharmaceutical preparations containing opioids, and new psychotropic substances (NPS). There is a large number of children and young adults who have initiated drug use and are experimenting with the variety of drugs available in the market. These relatively new users are at a high risk of becoming dependent on drugs, which can lead to serious long - term mental and physical health consequences. It is not only the person who uses drugs that suffers, but also his/her family and the community at large.

It is therefore imperative to think seriously about having in place drug use prevention programmes which are based on scientific evidence. The primary aim of drug prevention is to help people, particularly but not exclusively young people, to avoid or delay the initiation of the use of drugs, or, if they have started already, to avoid developing disorders. Effective drug prevention contributes significantly to the positive engagement of children, youth and adults with their families, schools, workplace and community.

Over the last 20 years, prevention science has made enormous advances. As a result, practitioners in the field and policy makers have a more comprehensive understanding about what makes individuals vulnerable to initiating the use of drugs.  Some of the factors include a genetic predisposition, stress during pregnancy, lack of family bonding, neglect, abuse and social exclusion. As part of its mandate on addressing drugs, UNODC works with member states to help them in implementing drug use prevention interventions. In this context, UNODC has developed International Standards on Drug Use Prevention which summarize currently available scientific evidence, describing interventions and policies that have been found to be effective. The International Standards also identify the major components and features of an effective national drug prevention system.

In an effort to move towards establishing a comprehensive drug use prevention strategy in India, UNODC recently hosted an event on 'Problematic Drug Use - A dialogue on Policy and Practice'. Mr. Gilberto Gerra, Chief of UNODC's Drug Prevention and Health Branch addressed a gathering of senior Government officials, Members of Parliament, civil society and the international community on understanding drug addiction and effective prevention.

Stakeholders present at the workshop shared their experiences and concerns over the increasing number of children using drugs.  Coordination between various stakeholders, implementation of a comprehensive drug use prevention strategy and capacity building of service providers were cited as the need of the hour. The workshop helped in bringing together critical stakeholders to discuss the way forward on establishing an effective health-centered national drug use prevention system in the country.


Click here to view the International Standards on Drug Use Prevention