Impacts of Drug abuse on Children and on Adolescents in India

Impacts of Drug abuse on Children and on Adolescents in India


India is the second most populated the country in the world and with only 50 million people (an extremely small number compared to the huge population of the country) behind the leader of the chart, China, it is more than possible for India to surpass its neighbour with respect to population easily.

Adolescents and children comprise a major part of the Indian population, about 434 million out of the 1.2 billion people of India. According to a survey 13.1% of people in India, who are involved in substance abuse, are under 20 years of age in India[1]. Among those who come under the above-mentioned percentage, 63.6% of the people who seek treatment for drug abuse started the consumption of illicit substances from the young age of 15. [2]

Child and adolescent drug abuse therefore forms a problem that has an immense magnitude to cause harm to the future of the country as well as to the lives of children who fall prey to drug abuse at such young ages. This project tries to explore various aspects of the topic of drug abuse by children and adolescents in India on the lines of stratification and legal remedies to this grave problem which poses such a big threat to the youth of the country.


The objectives of this project are to explore the issue of drug abuse and consumption of illicit substances by children and adolescents in the country. Another main focus of this project is to bring out the element of stratification with respect to various areas like financial status, age, gender, etc., of the children and adolescents who are victims of drug abuse in the country. Since the cognizance of this problem has been duly taken by the Government and the severity of the situation at hand has also been realized, this project also aims to explore the Legal means through which the Government has sought to take control of this issue. One can also take this project to be an eye-opener of sorts, a means through which this gravity of this issue is communicated to the reader.

Drug abuse by children takes place due to various reasons, and this paper will try to encapsulate most of those reasons, in order to reach to a definite conclusion as to why such drug abuse is so rampant in our society. After all, it is because of drug abuse, that a majority of the youth in our country lose the prime years of their life and fail to make a decent living.


The reason for me choosing to work on this particular topic- ‘Drug abuse by children and adolescents in India’ was my desire to research and come to know more about this pressing issue which our country is facing. Moreover, I found that this topic had a lot of scope for exploration of the concept of stratification, a topic which had recently been covered in class. Doing this project would help me see how stratification affects people’s lives and would, therefore, help me understand this concept better.
Child and adolescent drug abuse happens to be one of the biggest problems that the country faces in today’s day and age. There are several reasons due to which children are exposed to the drug abuse and consumption of illicit substances. These reasons can help in the identification of the financial status of the children who consume such illicit substances and who are victims of drug abuse. Various surveys conducted by many National Institutions of the country point out to the grim reality that most of the children in India who are prey to drug abuse, come from broken families, and usually, those that have very little income, with the money not being enough to give the children of the house a decent education[3].

It is because of the poor financial status of these households, that children are often forced to drop out of educational institutions, and take up menial jobs like rag picking and begging. Many of these children are rendered homeless due to the abusive nature of their families. It is these children who are most vulnerable to drug abuse and consumption of illicit substances, and sadly, it is these very children, who fall prey to drug abuse.

There are several psychological reasons that are related to the addiction of these children to drug abuse. Based on the kind of families that these children come from, these children are prone to severe sexual and mental abuse from their households. This is coupled with the physically exhaustive work that these children need to carry out in order to feed themselves and those dependent in their families. The nature of their odd jobs and the poor quality of their lives leave many of these children feeling depressed and a lot of these children feel that they are unable to cope up with the tremendous stress and pressure[4].

This feeling of helplessness and hopelessness makes these children turn to substances like alcohol, marijuana and even drugs like heroin and cocaine, in order to relieve themselves of the mental pressure that burdens their minds. This slowly turns to addiction and soon these children find themselves trapped in a vicious rut which they find unable to get out of.

And that is how young and innocent children in this country usually become victims of drug abuse and end up consuming illicit substances. These children do not receive any kind of assistance from authorities, regarding issues of mental health and sexual abuse that they face. The meagre earnings of these children are mostly spent on drugs. Those children who attend school also tend to drop in order to work full time, so that they have enough money to buy drugs. In this process, many young lives get ruined, the very lives who could very well be tremendous assets to the country and assist it in its growth and development through the performance of various roles.

There is clear evidence regarding the facts that have been stated above, in a study conducted by the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights on Substance Abuse by Children. This particular study clearly revealed to the world that 95.5% who were in child care, had been consumers of drugs, and that 93% of the children found on the streets were victims of drug abuse and consumption of illicit substances.

This very report, titled ‘Mental Health Care of Children’, which was prepared by experts from renowned institutions like the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), IHBAS and Manas Foundation also shows that the initiation of drug abuse by children can start from an age as low as 9 years.

The above information is further validated by the authority of the World Health Organization (WHO) confirming the fact that around 90% of the children on the street of India have been involved in the usage of narcotics.

On further examination of the available data, it has also been found that the number of males who are victims to drug abuse and consumption of illicit substances are considerably more in number than the female victims.

According to the article “Injection drug use among children and adolescents in India: Ringing the alarm bells”, published in The Indian Journal of Psychiatry, from a sample size of 507 children, it has been reported that 452 males are victims of drug abuse, compared to 55 female victims of drug abuse.[5]

Unpleasant cases of young children and adolescents getting trapped in this vicious cycle of drug addiction, that too in the most prime years of their life, is quite a tragic occurrence, and the Government has done its part by enacting legislation like the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985. According to Section 75 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985, the Government is entitled to identify, treat and establish centres for drug addiction.[6]

The Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment as the nodal agency has also been supporting Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts (IRCAs) under the scheme of Prevention of Alcoholism and Substance (Substances) Abuse being run by voluntary organizations.

The legislation of the above mentioned Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substance Act, 1985 is an outcome of India is an important part of three United Nations Drug Conventions like the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961 Convention), the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971 Convention) and the 1988 Convention against Illicit Traffic in Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988 Convention). In order to enforce the above conventions within its Jurisdiction, India enacted the Narcotic Drugs & Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985[7].

In order to create consequences for those people involved in the cultivation, possession, sale, purchase, trade, import, export as well as the use and consumption of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, except for medical and scientific purposes, the Government went ahead and enacted the NDPS Act, 1985.

The NDPS Act has been amended thrice, in 1989, 2001 and 2014, and provides rigorous punishments for use of substances like Heroin, Morphine, Cannabis, Cocaine, LSD, etc, with the lenient end of the punishment is a maximum of 1-year rigorous imprisonment or a fine up to Rs 10,000 or both. The harsh punishment includes Rigorous imprisonment from 10 years (min) to 20 years (max) and a fine from Rs 1 lakh to 2 lakhs.

Harsh punishments such as those mentioned above ensure that people do not venture into the dark world of drug abuse and that they do not consume illicit substances in their lives.

Legislations like the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children Act, 2000), as well as the support of several Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) seek to protect children from usage of drugs and illicit substances and provide adequate measures for the growth, development and rehabilitation of those children who are victims of drug abuse, and who do not have people to help them come out of their addiction

Through this brief discussion on the topic of Drug Abuse by Children and Adolescents in India, we have therefore explored the various aspects related to Child and Adolescent drug abuse- the financial status and background of those children who become victims of this the problem, the gender division amongst children who are victims of drugs and abuse of psychotropic and other illicit substances in India.

We have also explored the Legal aspect of this issue by mentioning and exploring various legislations that have been enacted on an International as well as on the national sphere, in order to tackle this grave issue at hand.


The issue of many young children falling prey to such activities poses a grave threat to the lives of the children, and also to the growth and development of the nation, since it is the youth which happens to be the backbone of the country. With a majority of the youth struggling with their lives, it becomes the responsibility of the country to rescue children like these and provide for their rehabilitation and care.

With respect to the fulfilment of its responsibilities, the Government has most definitely played its part by enacting various legislations that have been mentioned above.

With a vastly populated country like India, it often becomes difficult to help all children who need the support of the Government, however, seeing the way in which the victims of Drug abuse have been rehabilitated and treated by the Government so far, one can expect that the children who are waiting for help will surely receive it soon.

We have also been able to successfully explore the various elements of stratification with respect to age, social class and gender in this project.

With the Government executing its role efficiently, and with more and more of this country’s population receiving access to education and better standards of living, there exists more than a ray of hope that not just drug abuse, but several other issues like sexual and mental abuse faced by children will be tackled and dealt with in the years to come.

2nd Year, WBNUJS 

[1] How drug addiction is becoming a part of the lives of children on the streets and in child care’, available at (Last accessed on February 4th, 2020)

[2]  Id.
[3] How drug addiction is becoming a part of the lives of children on the streets and in child care’, available at (Last accessed on February 4th, 2020)

[4] How drug addiction is becoming a part of the lives of children on the streets and in child care’, available at (Last accessed on February 4th, 2020)

[5] Injection drug use amongst children and adolescents in India: Ringing the alarm bells (Indian Psychiatry Journal)’, available at (Last accessed on February 4th, 2020)

[6] Legislative measures in combating drug abuse and juvenile delinquency’, available at (Last accessed on February 4th, 2020)
[7] Legislative measures in combating drug abuse and juvenile delinquency’, available at (Last accessed on February 4th, 2020)

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