The cover-story of a recent issue of COVERT magazine provides an alarming picture of drug-abuse in Punjab (‘THE DRUGS HURRICANE OF PUNJAB‘). To quote some statistics:
1. 16% of the population of Punjab is hooked to hard drugs.
2. As of 2000, 67% of rural households in Punjab had at least one drug addict in the family. The situation has apparently worsened.
3. The State accounts for one-fifth of the total heroin confiscated in the country.
4. HIV infection among intravenous drug users cover 13% of Punjab’s population.
5. Health Ministry officials said, “According to a survey conducted among industrial workers from 200 large scale industries in Ludhiana, 25% of drug users are using morphine, sedatives and tranquilizers. 51% got their supplies from chemists.”
6. Government estimates place 40 lakh persons as addicted to hard drugs, but the number is contested by drug counsellors and others working in the field.
What struck me from this story is that there is no mention of recreational drugs at all. Such prevalence of abuse of hard-drugs in one of the wealthiest states in the country is shocking indeed.