According to a study conducted by the community medicine department of the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), over 30 lakh people, or about 15.4% of Punjab’s population, currently use some form of the drug. However, alcohol is the most widely abused substance and is consumed by over 2 million people in the state.
The second edition of the book, Roadmap for Prevention and Control of Substance Abuse in Punjab, edited by Dr JS Thakur, professor of community medicine at the PGIMER, was released by Banwarilal Purohit, Punjab governor and UT administrator, on Monday.
Young people who are most attracted to heroin and drug injections often struggle with poor academic performance, learning disabilities and a general lack of interest in learning, says the report. It further adds that mental illnesses, such as depression, apathy, withdrawal, personality disorders, short-term memory loss, mood swings, etc., are also remarkably marked in them. As a result, they commit petty crimes, and often minors are not arrested or prosecuted by the juvenile justice system.
On the other hand, the elderly, more attracted to alcohol, opium and cocaine, suffer from mood disorders, heart and lung disease, liver problems, memory loss, suicidal tendencies and depression. They also sometimes display poor judgment and coordination skills that lead to traffic accidents, the report notes.
Discussing the findings, Dr Thakur said, “As per the State of Punjab Household Survey (SPHS) and state-wide NCD STEPs Survey by the PGIMER, the projected number of overall substance use in Punjab is 15.4%, with more prevalence among the men. Over 2 million people consume alcohol, followed by tobacco, which is consumed by more than 1.5 million people. Also, around 1.7 lakh people consume opioids, followed by cannabinoids as well as sedative-inhalant stimulants. These are largely a class of pharmacological or prescription drugs being used illicitly.”