INCB calls for increased focus on improving substance use prevention and treatment services for young people


New Delhi/February 27, 2020: Highlighting the connection between the use of alcohol and tobacco, and the use of psychoactive substances by children and adolescents, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has called for increased focus on improving substance use prevention and treatment services for young people, in its latest report. The INCB Annual Report 2019 report was released by the UNODC Regional Office for South Asia today in New Delhi, in collaboration with the INCB and the Indian Institute of Public Administration, coinciding with the global launch of the report in Vienna. 

The 2019 INCB Annual Report raises concern about psychoactive substance use among young people citing findings of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) World Drug Report 2018.  Substance use and associated health consequences are highest among young people, with cannabis being the most widely used substance. Based on data from 130 countries, UNODC estimates that in 2016, cannabis use affected 5.6 per cent or 13.8 million young people aged 15-16 with rates varying by region. The INCB Annual Report highlights that the use of alcohol and tobacco by children and adolescents is closely linked to starting to use psychoactive substances.

Sharing the key findings from the report, Mrs. Jagjit Pavadia, INCB Member and Chair of Committee on Finance and Administration, said. "The age of onset is of greatest concern. Studies that followed children into adulthood have revealed that the earlier the onset of alcohol, tobacco and cannabis use during the ages of 16-19 years, the greater the likelihood of the use of opiates and cocaine in adulthood. "

Shedding light on global trends, Mrs. Pavadia added, "INCB reminds all State parties that the three international drug control conventions ought to be read within the international human rights framework. Compliance with the drug control conventions supports the direct and positive fulfilment of human rights, especially the realization of the universal right to health, which includes access to treatment.

Reflecting on the report, Dr. Suruchi Pant, Deputy Representative, UNODC Regional Office for South Asia, said, "Children are our investment in the future, but all too often they are forgotten in the priorities of the present. If we are to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, including its health targets, we need to vigorously address the drugs problem with a greater focus on the health and well-being of people, especially the young. We need a balanced, comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach that puts people at the centre of the response and in particular those who are the most vulnerable." 

In the Precursors Report for 2019, INCB reveals that the Illicit manufacture of amphetamine-type stimulants is becoming increasingly global. Over 2018-2019, the illicit manufacture of amphetamine-type stimulants has spread to regions and countries not previously associated with such manufacture.

In addition, diversion from intranational trade continues to be the main source of cocaine precursors, including potassium permanganate, while investigations facilitated by INCB into trafficking in acetic anhydride, the main heroin precursor, revealed that a much larger network of criminal activities may be at work than previously thought.

"Maritime trafficking of drugs is a major concern, and I am happy to note that this INCB report highlights an increase in seizures of heroin through the Southern Route. The Narcotics Control Bureau is committed to fight the scourge of drugs and strengthen coordination to counter trafficking. We are committed to work with UNODC and other institutions to realise the vision of the Prime Minister and Home Minister of a Drug Free India," said Mr. Rakesh Asthana, Director General, Narcotics Control Bureau, Government of India.  

Mr. Balesh Kumar, Director General, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Government of India, asserted, "We need to join hands internationally and domestically to counter the scourge of drugs. Both demand reduction and supply reduction must be done in an organised and systematic manner."

The INCB Annual report calls on governments to establish national epidemiological data systems to monitor changing trends in psychoactive substance use among young people, and invest in the development of professional expertise in the field of substance use prevention and treatment with a focus on the needs of young people.

Dr. Rakesh Chadda, Chief, National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, AIIMS, said, "India is home to nearly 356 million people between the ages of 10-25. In this backdrop, the report carries a special significance. NDDTC has been actively working on raising community awareness, as well as in schools, Universities and workplaces. We are also running 28 drug dependence treatment clinics, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health."

Research has shown that young people are particularly vulnerable to habitual use of drugs, leading to the risk and protective factors being reviewed. The need for prevention and treatment for children and adolescents should take into account the individual and environmental influences on young people and their development, the Report advocates.

Read the 2019 INCB Annual Report here