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Covid-19 & Drug Abuse

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June 26, 2020

Why in news?

During the Covid-19 crisis, more people use drugs and more illicit drugs are available than ever.

Why is there an increase in drug usage?

  • The economic downturn caused by the pandemic may drive more people to substance abuse.
  • It may also leave them vulnerable to involvement in drug trafficking and related crime.
  • Vulnerable and marginalised groups, youth, women and the poor have been harmed the most.
  • All over the world, the risks and consequences of drug are worsening.
  • This worsening is due to poverty, limited opportunities for education and jobs, stigma and social exclusion.
  • These factors, in turn, deepen inequalities.

What are the affected segments?

  • More people use drugs in developed countries than in developing ones.
  • Wealthier segments of society have a higher prevalence of drug use.
  • However, socially and economically disadvantaged people are more likely to develop drug use disorders.
  • Adolescents and young adults account for the largest share of users.

How much accessibility do people have for treatment?

  • According to the World Drug Report 2020, only one out of eight people who need drug-related treatment receive it.
  • One out of three drug users is a woman.
  • However, women represent only one out of five people in treatment.
  • People in prison settings, minorities, immigrants and displaced people face barriers to treatment due to discrimination and stigma.
  • More than 80% of the world’s population are deprived of access to controlled drugs for pain relief and other essential medical uses.
  • These people mostly live in low- income and middle-income countries.

What needs to be done?

  • Now facing the gravest socio-economic crisis, governments should not ignore the dangers illicit drugs pose to public health and safety.
  • Drug strategies addressing the country-level and regional-level challenges are needed.
  • Investment is needed in evidence-based prevention, treatment and other services for drug use disorders, HIV and other infections.
  • Health-centred, rights-based and gender-responsive approaches to drug use and related diseases deliver better public health outcomes.
  • International cooperation is needed,
    1. To increase access to controlled drugs for medical purposes as well as preventing diversion and abuse.
    2. To strengthen law enforcement action to dismantle the transnational organised crime networks.


Source: The Hindu

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