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Kerala has a drug problem: 300% jump in cases over six years; arrests increased by 90%

GS Paper 2

Syllabus: Health and related issues


Source: IE

 Direction: The article highlights the drug menace in India, its impact and steps taken by the government of India.


Context: In 2022, Kerala saw a high increase in cases involving drugs, liquor, and prohibited tobacco items, suggesting that drugs have become a new problem for the state.



  • Data show that the police registered 26,629 cases under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act in 2022 – a jump of over 300% when compared to 2016.
  • While there was a fall in the quantity of ganja seized in 2022 over the previous year, seizures of heroin, charas and hashish have gone up.
  • Bengaluru and Goa remain major hubs from where the drugs are sourced and cannabis is the main drug used by teenagers.
  • The steady rise in drug-related cases in Kerala is a factor of both strict enforcement and raids and easier access to contraband.
  • Youngsters are now aware of the availability of synthetic/recreational drugs (MDMA and LSD). There is also peer pressure to explore these drugs.


Scale of the Drug Addiction problem in India:

  • The UNODC’s World Drug Report 2022 estimates that around 284 million people use drugs worldwide.
  • The report also claims India is one of the world’s single-largest opiate markets and most addicts are between the age group of 15 and 35 and many are unemployed.
  • More than 60% of all illicit drugs seized in India are from Punjab.


Impact on individual, economy, society and national security:

  • Drug addiction poses a high risk of unintentional injuries, accidents, domestic violence incidents, medical problems and death.
  • Impacts on Mental Health: Drug dependence leads to low self-esteem, and hopelessness and can lead to criminal activities/law and order challenges and even suicidal tendencies.
  • Drug abusers’ economic potential gets severely impacted. For example, they fail to become part of the workforce.
  • Money earned from the illegal drug trade is used to aid terrorist organisations, which threatens the defence and security of many countries.


Measures taken by the government:

  • The NDPS Act, 1985: Under the act, the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) was constituted in 1986 with the prime responsibility of fighting drug trafficking and drug abuse.
  • Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyaan (NMBA): In 2020, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment launched NMBA in 272 most vulnerable districts of India to address the problem.
  • The MoSJ&E has begun the implementation of a National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR) for 2018-2025.
  • The government constituted the Narco-Coordination Centre (NCORD) in 2016.
  • The government has constituted a fund called the “National Fund for Control of Drug Abuse” to meet the expenditure incurred in combating illicit traffic in Narcotic Drugs, rehabilitating addicts, educating the public against drug abuse, etc.


Best Practice: 

The Portuguese model:

  • In 2001, Portugal became the first country in the world to decriminalise the possession and use of all illegal drugs.
  • Instead of sending people to court for drug possession, its model focuses on education, treatment and harm reduction.


Operation “Gear Box” was started by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) to combat the smuggling of heroin by detecting the hidden drugs in the gearboxes.


Insta Links:


 Mains Links:

Q. India’s proximity to two of the world’s biggest illicit opium-growing states has enhanced her internal security concerns. Explain the linkages between drug trafficking and other illicit activities such as gunrunning, money laundering and human trafficking. What countermeasures should be taken to prevent the same? (UPSC 2018)