Nagaland among top in prevalence of psychoactive substances use: Study

Morung Express News 
Dimapur | February 28 

Nagaland is among top states in prevalence of psychoactive substances use with illegal cannabis products, opioids, sedatives and inhalents being the highest. 

According to the ‘Magnitude of Substance Use in India, 2019’ which was released by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on February 19, in Nagaland the use of ganja and charas, which are illegal as per the international drug conventions as well as the Indian law (the NDPS Act, 1985), is 4.65%, second highest after Sikkim (7%). 

Nationally, about 2.8% of Indians aged 10-75 (3.1 crore individuals) are users of any cannabis product-bhang (legal form of cannabis) and ganja, charas and other illegal forms, the report found.  

According to the report, though bhang use is found to be more prevalent than ganja/charas, dependent use is lower for bhang users (1 in 16) than ganja/charas users (1 in 7). Also it was indicated that ganja/charas is more likely to cause harm or lead to addiction as compared to bhang. 

The report also collated and analyzed reports for seven other categories of psychoactive substances: alcohol, opioids cocaine, Amphetamine Type Stimulants (ATS), sedatives, inhalants and hallucinogens.

It is the first time in the country to study and document substance use from all the states and UTs of the country.

Nagaland State is also among states “affected in terms of percentage of population” and was reported as the second highest prevalence of opioid users at 25.22% after the State of Mizoram. 

In general, the prevalence of opioid use in the north-east and north-west region of India is higher compared to other regions. Atleast more than 10% of the general population in Northeast states indicates prevalence of opioid use, the survey found.  

About 2.26 crore in the country use opioids, the most common opioid used is Heroin (1.14%) followed by pharmaceutical opioids (0.96%) and Opium (0.52%). 

Nagaland also figured high in use of sedatives (non-medical, nonprescription use) and inhalants. The percentage of current use is 5.4%, also second highest after Sikkim followed by other Northeast states like Manipur and Mizoram. 

The survey indicated that about 1.08% of 10-75 year old Indians (approximately 1.18 crore people) are current users of sedatives. Inhalants (overall prevalence 0.7%) are the only category of substances for which the prevalence of current use among children and adolescents is higher (1.17%) than adults (0.58%), the report said. 

The number of people dependent on cocaine, ATS and Hallucinogens is extremely small in comparison to the size of country’s population.

The estimated number of People Who Inject Drugs (PWID) in Nagaland  State is 34888. Nationally, it is estimated that there are about 8.5 Lakh PWID. Opioid group of drugs are predominantly injected by PWID (heroin – 46% and pharmaceutical opioids – 46%). Among a substantial proportion of PWID report risky injecting practices, Nagaland is also among other 10 states. According to the findings of the study, reach of the national programmes for treatment of substance use disorders is grossly inadequate and there is a wide gap for treatment (mismatch between demand and availability of treatment services). 

The study suggested that a conducive legal and policy environment is needed to help control drug problems and further suggested that a scientific evidence-based treatment is needed to be made available for people with substance use disorders at an adequate scale. It also stated that evidence-based substance use prevention programmes is needed to protect young people and added that the approach of generating and utilizing scientific evidence must continue.