CHILD Protection & Child Rights » Vulnerable Children » Children's Issues » Children affected by Substance Abuse
"If current trends continue, 250 million children alive today will be killed by tobacco."
The incidence of drug abuse among children and adolescents is higher than the general population. This is notably because youth is a time for experimentation and identity forming. In developed countries drug abuse among youth is generally associated with particular youth subcultures and lifestyles. This causes an acceptance by members of the subcultures of drugs and their use. In Asia figures of drug abuse are hard to find but after cannabis, Amphetamine-type Stimulants (ATS) are the most commonly uses amongst children and youth. There have been various studies carried out in the region regarding drug abuse. A 1996 study of eight cities in seven provinces of China showed that over a half of heroin abusers are below 25 years of age. A school survey conducted in 1999 among students aged 12 to 21 years, in Vientiane, reported 4.8 per cent lifetime abuse for ATS.
In India an NGO survey revealed that 63.6 % of patients coming in for treatment were introduced to drugs at a young age below 15 years. According to another report 13.1% of the people involved in drug and substance abuse in India, are below 20 years. Heroin, Opium, Alcohol, Cannabis and Propoxyphene are the five most common drugs being abused by children in India. A survey shows that of all alcohol, cannabis and opium users 21%, 3% and 0.1% are below the age of eighteen. An emerging trend about child drub abusers is the use of a cocktail of drugs through injection, and often sharing the same needle, which increases their risk of HIV infection. Overall 0.4% and 4.6% of total treatment seekers in various states were children.
The problem in India is there are no sensitization programmes about drug abuse in schools or for children out of school. India does not have a substance abuse policy. There is also a high incidence of charging children under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985. Children who at times done have access to high quality drugs will use volatile substances easily found in corner stores such as cough syrups, pain relief ointments, glue, paint, gasoline and cleaning fluids. There are very few to no health centers that deal with child substance abuse problems, especially in the rural areas. The use of tobacco is another major concern amongst children. In India 20 million children a year and nearly 55,000 children a day are drawn into a tobacco addition. The number is shocking when compared to the 3000 a day new child smokers in the US.
The use of certain drugs such as whitener, alcohol, tobacco, hard and soft drugs is especially wide spread among street children, working children and trafficked children but there is currently a lack of reliable data on drug abuse amongst children.
In 2008, CHILDLINE India Foundation published a study on substance abuse amongst children in Manipur. The study found a wide spread prevalence and acceptance of drug use from heroin to the most common Spasmo Proxyvon. The high use of intravenous drugs is accompanied by sharing of needles and hence a high prevalence of HIV/AIDS.
Children affected by substance abuse are considered as children in need of care and protection under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000.