25 June 2010
By Himanshi Dhawan
New Delhi, India
‘Women and drug abuse in India’, a high risk assessment study conducted by the UNODC, has found that female substance abusers were mostly in their 20s or 30s with about 6.2% below 20 years of age. Nearly one in three are illiterate and while a majority (63.9%) are married, 16.5% are single. Of those married, more than half were married before the age of 18 years.
Women who are drug users are more likely to have grown up in circumstances of poverty and nearly a third make their living out of sex work or peddling.
The report also reveals that more than 50% women living with or married to a substance user were financially dependent. In about 25% of the cases, they supported their partner’s substance use.
UNODC representative for South Asia Cristina Albertin expressed concern over the new drugs that were coming up. "We have also seen nonmedical use of prescription drugs and there is concern over its use."
The World Drug Report 2010 – also released on Thursday – indicates that drug users are moving to new drugs and new markets. Drug cultivation is declining in Afghanistan (for opium) and the Andean countries (coca) and drug use has stabilised in the developed world. However, there are signs of an increase in drug use in developing countries, and growing abuse of amphetamine–type stimulants (ATS) and prescription drugs around the world.
According to the UNODC, the global number of people using ATS – estimated at around 30–40 million – is soon likely to exceed the number of opiate and cocaine users combine. There is also evidence of increasing abuse of prescription drugs. The ATS market is harder to track because of short trafficking routes and the fact that many of the raw materials are both legal and readily available. Manufacturers are quick to market new products (like ketamine, piperazines, Mephedrone and Spice) and exploit new markets.
Another trend noted by the report was that two–thirds of the opium is consumed in just 5 countries – Iran (42%), Afghanistan (7%), Pakistan (7%), India (6%) and the Russian Federation (5%).