Already infamous for drug trafficking and alcohol abuse, now a survey on substance abuse is being carried out in three districts of Himachal Pradesh to help ascertain the impact of drug abuse and alcoholism among the hill folks.
The survey is part of Nationwide Survey on Extent and Impact of Substance Abuse. It is being conducted in the country after 18 years and will cover three districts of Kangra, Kullu and Kinnaur.
“A total of 16,000 households would be covered under the survey and it would be a respondent written survey,” Sandeep Parmar, Executive Director of Dharamshala based Gunjan NGO told The Statesman.
Dharamshala based Gunjan organisation for community development is the nodal agency for carrying out the survey in HP and Chandigarh.
Parmar said the survey would help in determining the number of people who use substances or are suffering from the substance use disorders.
In addition, the survey would also focus on studying impacts of substance abuse on special population as homeless, prison, transgender, street children, transport workers and students in selected educational institutions.
“The study results will help the government and other agencies which are involved in the work of rehabilitation and drug de-addiction, in strengthening existing facilities and improvements in service delivery,” he said.
The study would result in covering all aspects of drug abuse prevention including assessment of addiction, preventive action, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts, and also in preparing, disseminating information and public awareness.
The nationwide survey will also map presence of services or facilities and interventions or measures for persons affected with substance abuse and identifying chinks in service delivery.
It is worthwhile to mention here that National Family Health Survey (2016-17) had pegged the number of alcohol consuming persons at 39.7 per cent, much higher than Punjab (34 per cent), though Chandigarh residents ranks just a touch below at 39.3 per cent.
While only 24.5 per cent persons in Haryana consume alcohol, the NFHS survey had revealed.
Himachal also leads in number of tobacco user with 40.5 persons consuming tobacco products, while it is 22.5 per cent in Chandigarh and 35.8 per cent persons in Haryana.
In fact, an independent study conducted by Indira Gandhi Medical College, Shimla had indicated that over 40 per cent youth in the state are falling prey to the menace.
While the situation in the state capital, Shimla is much worse where 54 per cent boys and 24 per cent girls have become addicted to drugs or other intoxicants (identified as regular users).
The study had concluded nearly 29.3 per cent students were addicted to cigarette and gutka khaini. Alcohol consumption was found among 24.45 per cent, cannabis among 20.87 per cent, cough syrups among 4.4 per cent and opium among 3.4 per cent.