Addicts in Punjab spend over Rs 20 crore a day for drugs, says survey   

Punjab, June 24: After the shocking details of an drug user survey were made public by AIIMS, the government has launched various radio and print advertising campaigns to counter the study. The report says that heroin addicts are spending Rs 20 crore a day (Rs 7,300 crore per annum) on buying drugs in Punjab.

The criticism the state government launched at AIIMS over the study – terming it a ‘random sample’, made in an attempt to ‘malign’ Punjab – has backfired, as its own Health and Family Department was part of the research.

The study commissioned by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) was carried out by the Society for the Promotion of Youth & Masses (SPYM) and a team of researchers from the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC), AIIMS, New Delhi during 2014.

“The researchers spoke to 3,620 opioid (heroin) dependents across 10 districts and found that 76 per cent of the opioid dependents in the state are between the age group of 18 to 35 years. Ninety-nine per cent of the dependents are males and married,” says the study.

Overall, 89 per cent of opioid dependents are literate, and 21 per cent of them are farmers. Twenty-seven per cent are farm labourers, 15 per cent are businessmen, 14 per cent are transport workers, and 13 per cent are skilled workers. The remaining 10 per cent include students and government employees, including policemen.

The study also says that out of a total 8.6 lakh opioid users, 2,32,856 are opioid dependent.

“Data suggests that among 18-35 year-old men in Punjab, four in every 100 are opioid dependent and 15 of 100 could be opioid users,” says the study.

“On an average, a heroin using individual spends about Rs 1400 per day on drugs. This figure is considerably lower for opium users (Rs 340 per day) and pharmaceutical-opioid users (Rs 265 per day),” says the study.

The most commonly-used drug in Punjab these days is heroin (53 per cent), followed by opium which includes poppy husk (33 per cent) and pharmaceutical opioid (14 per cent).

Former chief minister Captain Amrinder Singh said on Thursday: “The study is correct. It has been done by country’s premier institute that too with the collaboration of Punjab’s Health Department. The Badals should take a dope test as they are the ones responsible for the problem.”