SHILLONG, July 13 � Drug abuse has emerged as a serious problem in Meghalaya, with the number of users increasing 33 times in the last ten years, according to a survey by an NGO.
North East India Drugs and Aids Care (NEIDAC) director Toshi Shanglir says the number of drug users has increased 33 times according to the latest figure of 2009-10.
�The total number of drug users in 1999 was just 556 compared to the latest figure which has gone up to 17,833,� Shanglir says.
The NEIDAC which carried out the survey says, Jaintia Hills district, which has coal mines and where there are migrant workers, has the highest concentration of drug users at 5,398.
Ri Bhoi district has 2,397 drug addicts, West Khasi Hills district 1,525, East Garo Hills 1,500, West Garo Hills district 1,100 and South Garo Hills 800.
Shanglir says 30 per cent of the addicts inject themselves, while sniffing and popping methods are also followed.
He says that according to the findings of the report, the addicts start from an early age.
�The age of initiation of over thirty per cent of the drug users is found to be between 10 and 15 years... Besides heroin, ganja, cough syrup, Diazepam and SP, dendrite is also one of the commonest chemical misused by the young generation,� the report says. Significantly, nearly 40 per cent of the drug users are drop-outs, while 18 per cent are illiterate.
�Many respondents attributed drug use in the State due to lack of parental guidance, peer pressure, enjoyment, curiosity, frustration and lack of avenues for recreation,� it says.
According to the report, 40 per cent of the drugs used by addicts come from peddlers, 33 per cent from friends and 27 per cent from pharmacies.
Quoting police reports, the survey says that the National Highway 44 which runs through the State has become the main trafficking route for the drugs.
�Due to good road connectivity and lack of effective police vigilance within the State and across the international border, drugs are being smuggled and transported with ease,� the survey claims.
�Trafficking of heroin and other drugs in North East India are carried out through Mandalay, Myanmar.� Drug peddlers walk eight to ten days through the forest breaching the porous border easily, it says.
The contraband is then stocked in Silchar from where peddlers use buses and private vehicles to dispatch it, the report says.
Students, women and security personnel are used as couriers with smugglers also using nostrils, ears, and private parts to conceal drugs. � PTI