Background: The epidemic of substance abuse in the present generation has assumed alarming dimensions in the state of Punjab. The success story of Punjab’s economy has seemingly come to an end. District Amritsar being close to border is deeply influenced. Maximum cases were registered under the NDPS Act in the year 2012 in Punjab, with the nationally highest drug-related crime rate of 51.6%, against the national average of 2.8% . The present study aims to identify the emerging trends and prevalence of drug abuse among the patients enrolling at Swami Vivekananda drug de-addiction and treatment centre, Amritsar. Methods and findings: In the year 2014 and 2015, consecutive patients on outpatient basis from the month of January 2014 till august 2015 were enrolled. Urine toxicology was done for the drugs abused with rapid immune-chromatographic assay kits available in the centre. A total of 10,568 patients were screened for urine toxicology. Out of 10,568 enrolled patients 9815 patients were found positive for morphine and out of 9815 patients addicted to morphine 5785(54.74%) of patients were abusing heroin in one or other form, which was concluded from the personal interview and general physical examination for scar marks of injectable drug users of heroin. Rest of the substances abused includes other opioids, alcohol, sedatives, cannabis, cocaine, amphetamines and tobacco. The dose of heroin used by the patients varied from person to person but on average most of patients abuse heroin from 500mg up to 2grams on daily basis either in the form of snorting, sniffing or as injectable. Conclusion: High numbers of heroin abusers indicate its high addiction potential. Due to its high cost majority of addicts are not able to procure it and get involved in illegal activities. This publication helps to provide the figure of current alarming rise of heroin abuse among the study population. Immediate steps like demand reduction via proper education of youth and proper treatment of addicts with individual or group counselling are required curtailing the current drug menace in Punjab. Increasing trends of heroin abuse among population is shattering the youth of Punjab. Such a drastic deviation towards heroin abuse can be attributed to its high addiction potential, easy availability, unemployment and socio-occupational pressure faced by youth of Punjab. Awareness regarding the side effects of drugs and their addictive potential should be focused and campaigns in the rural population regarding the preventive measures and treatment options available for addiction should be encouraged.
Gurpreet Singh*, Garg PD, Manjit Singh, Rajiv Arora and Aseem Garg