Chanakya IAS Academy Blog


Relevance and use of the article in UPSC prelims and mains examination:Dear aspirants this article is about the increasing rate of drug abuse in children in India. The fact is that Delhi has approximately 70,000 homeless children, more than any other Indian city. These children, on an average, are slightly over 12 years old. The lowest estimate of drug addiction among them is 36 percent and the highest is 80 percent. A large proportion of children, below 10 years of age, grow up routinely consuming tobacco and sniffing white fluid inhalants – glues and whiteners. The government has to take a serious action against this to control the crime. And provide safeguards against child abuse.

A report titled ‘Drug Abuse Among Street Children in Delhi’, by Vidhi Centre for Legal Policy, looks at the laws for the treatment and rehabilitation of Delhi’s drug-addicted children. The government seems to have been doing a lot to address the problems of these children, at least on paper.

What is drug addiction?
The dividing line between drug abuse and drug addiction can be rather fine sometimes, but simply put, drug addiction is the point at which the user has developed a psychological or physiological dependence on a substance and can no longer make the choice whether or not to use.

What is drug abuse?
Drug abuse is using any drug for something other than its intended purpose, or using it improperly. That can include using too much prescription medication, or using it too often, other than the prescribed way as directed by the doctor. It is using alcohol to the point where you get intoxicated. Drug abuse is a conscious choice.

Hazards of Chemicals Found in Commonly Abused Inhalants

  • Amyl nitrite, butyl nitrite
    • ("poppers," "video head cleaner")
    • sudden sniffing death syndrome, suppressed immunologic function, injury to red blood cells (interfering with oxygen supply to vital tissues)
  • benzene
    • (found in gasoline)
    • bone marrow injury, impaired immunologic function, increased risk of leukemia, reproductive system toxicity
  • butane, propane
    • (found in lighter fluid, hair and paint sprays)
    • sudden sniffing death syndrome via cardiac effects, serious burn injuries (because of flammability)
  • freon
    • (used as a refrigerant and aerosol propellant)
    • sudden sniffing death syndrome, respiratory obstruction and death (from sudden cooling/cold injury to airways), liver damage
  • methylene chloride
    • (found in paint thinners and removers, degreasers)
    • reduction of oxygen-carrying capacity of blood, changes to the heart muscle and heartbeat nitrous oxide ("laughing gas"), hexane death from lack of oxygen to the brain, altered perception and motor coordination, loss of sensation, limb spasms, blackouts caused by blood pressure changes, depression of heart muscle functioning
  • toluene
    • (found in gasoline, paint thinners and removers, correction fluid)
    • brain damage (loss of brain tissue mass, impaired cognition, gait disturbance, loss of coordination, loss of equilibrium, limb spasms, hearing and vision loss), liver and kidney damage
  • Trichloroethylene
    • (found in spot removers, degreasers)
    • sudden sniffing death syndrome, cirrhosis of the liver, reproductive complications, hearing and vision damage

Inhalant abusers risk an array of other devastating medical consequences.

  • Asphyxiation — from repeated inhalations that lead to high concentrations of inhaled fumes, which displace available oxygen in the lungs;
  • suffocation — from blocking air from entering the lungs when inhaling fumes from a plastic bag placed over the head;
  • convulsions or seizures — from abnormal electrical discharges in the brain;
  • coma — from the brain shutting down all but the most vital functions;
  • choking — from inhalation of vomit after inhalant use; or
  • fatal injury — from accidents, including motor vehicle fatalities, suffered while intoxicated.

The fight against the malaise relies on two laws:

  • The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985 that ensures treatment and rehabilitation of all the addicts and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) (JJ) Act, 2015 (which replaced the JJ Act, 2000) that addresses specifically to the needs of children addicted to drugs.
  • Multiple ministries handle implementation with unclear division of responsibilities and, unsurprisingly, tend to work in silos. For instance, the ministry of social justice and empowerment (MoSJE) handles drug demand reduction, while the ministry of health and family welfare (MoHFW) conducts treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts. Both the ministries are mandated to fund deaddiction and rehabilitation programmes.
  • MoSJE runs a scheme for prevention of alcoholism and substance abuse since 1985, which partially funds eligible agencies (that is, NGOs) for setting up Integrated Rehabilitation Centres for Addicts (IRCAs) and counselling centres.
  • At present, the two ministries neither share resources nor finance joint operations that can address child welfare comprehensively. The JJ Act 2015 categorises drug-addicted children as those who are in need of care and protection and provides for their care through an elaborate mechanism.

Provisions for a drug abused child:

  • Briefly, a child who falls within the category of ‘in need of care and protection’ has to be brought, within 24 hours, before the child welfare committee (CWC) (each district is required to have at least one). After that, a social investigation report needs to be prepared within 15 days.
  • The CWC can then direct the child to be placed in an approved drug treatment centre. The Juvenile Justice Board, which deals with children in conflict with the law (those who have committed a crime), can also direct children to rehabilitation centres if they are found to be addicted.

The government’s budgetary allocations

    • According to a report by the HAQ Centre for Child Rights, in the union budget of 2016-17, there has been significant decrease of 14.4 percent in the fund allocation share for the protection of children.
    • The report has raised concerns about the falling budget allocation for health and education of children.
    • Tellingly, in spite of lip service by policy makers on child welfare, there is no specific scheme that allocates funds for child drug addicts or the welfare of street or homeless children.


      • Fixing the challenge requires a sea-change in how society and government views these minor addicts. Consulting all stakeholders collectively, providing clear demarcation of responsibilities and oversight, investing in adequate infrastructure and training of staff to ensure a robust juvenile justice system, allocating adequate funds and treating the problem as a healthcare management issue integrated with the existing healthcare system would make for a good beginning.

Question: “How much do you really know about why people become addicted to drugs, is this the result of social degradation”In the lights of this statement place your views about child drug abuse in india.
Suggested approach:

      • Discuss about the situation of child drug abuse in India.
      • What is drug addiction and drug abuse.
      • Major substance used for drug abuse and their health hazards.
      • Laws enacted by government to control drug abuse.
      • Awareness and social participation needed.
      • Suggetions
      • Conclusion

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