Drug users in Meghalaya increases in past five years

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Meghalaya News 24 exclusive

Advocating the need for proper implantation of the Meghalaya Drug Abuse Prevention Policy, 2020 in the state, Social Welfare Minister Kyrmen Shylla said the policy will help in tackling drug menace.

“…..the whole state should implement this (Meghalaya Drug Abuse Prevention Policy, 2020) and by implementing the policy, it will be benefitted, hopefully we can stop this drug menace. If all of us work as a team, hopefully one day   Meghalaya will be a drug free state,” Shylla said.

Meghalaya Drug Abuse Prevention Policy, 2020 highlights the prevention, treatment, aftercare, capacity building, training, study, research and the strengthening of drug supply reduction strategies including policy implementation, coordination mechanisms and the setting up of fast track courts and special courts.

 Drug abuse has emerged as a serious problem in Meghalaya, with the number of users increasing every year according to an official report. However, the report also mentioned the sizable number of alcohol addicts along with drug users.

The official data provided by the Social welfare department is about the total number of addicts including Drugs and alcohol users receiving treatments.

As per the official record, the number of addicts treated at Meghalaya in 2016-17 was 1036 which in five years has increased to 1,321, According to Social Welfare Minister Kyrmen Shylla.

Meghalaya police anti narcotic team has played a bigger role to check this menace.

Giving a gist of the Drug users in the state, Shylla said, “In 2016-17 the number of such addicts was 1,039 with East Khasi Hills District recording a maximum of 606 cases of drug users.”

Interestingly, in 2017-18 there is a marginal increase in the number of drug and Alcohol users in the state.

“In 2017-18, the number of addicts recorded was 1,124 with East Khasi Hills once again showing the increasing trends as 672 cases  were recorded,” the Minister said.

The year 2018-19 was no different, that year too there was an increase in the number of drug users.

“In the year 2018-19, the number of drug users in the state was 1,153, however, there was a major increase in the number of Drug users in East Khasi Hills as 943,” he said.

Although in 2019-20 the numbers of Drug users have increased, while there was a marginal decline in the number in East Khasi Hills.

According to the social welfare Minister, “ In 2019-20, the number of Drug users were 1,219, while the East Khasi hills district witnessed a marginal decline of 811 numbers of drug users but another this is West Khasi Hills District too reported a sizable number with 190 cases reported. “

This year’s report is till the month of June about the number of Drug Users treated in Meghalaya from April 2020 to June 2021.

“From April 2020 to June 2021, the numbers of Drug users were 1,321, and again the number of drug users during this COVID 19 pandemic has increased to 1,081 in East Khasi Hills District,” he added.

These are the number of Drug users who are receiving their treatment in the state, although there are many who are still untraced.

Giving reason to the increasing number of drug users in the state, the Minister said “Meghalaya is a transit route.”

The proximity of North Eastern states including Meghalaya to the Golden Triangle, which is considered a transit route for drugs, is the reason for the high drug trafficking trends in the region and in the state.

“When we look into Drugs we have seen our state Meghalaya is a transit state where people from outside they used to transport drugs but they are just not happy just transporting drugs through our state but in between they are selling it in our state which affects our people,”  the UDP legislator said.

Calling the need for the North-eastern states to join hands to tackle the drug menace in the region, the Social welfare Minister said, “I believe if all the state works hand in hand, we will be able to tackle all these drug menaces, we will be drug-free. I request the drug users, they harm the whole family and whole society.”

Further, he appreciated Assam Government’s initiative to crack down drug menace saying this will also benefit neighbouring state Meghalaya to a great extent.

Stating Meghalaya does not have any Government rehabilitation centre of its own, the Minister stated that there are Government funded Integrated Rehabilitation Centre for Addicts in the state.

“As of now we don’t have a government rehabilitation centre but the state Government has funded three rehabilitation projects in the state, these are Kripa Foundation, New Hope Centre and Sanker,” he added.

 It may be mentioned that Meghalaya is all set to get a de-addiction centre for youths, The centre will be run by KRIPA Foundation through the PPP model with the State’s Social Welfare Department, officials said.

 Recently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah held a meeting with the Chief Ministers of the region and discussed myriad issues affecting the region including the Drugs menace. Initiatives are being taken to make North East drugs free by 2022.

Shah has urged all the states to work together to make the region free of violence and drugs. He added that Assam has therefore started coordinating with Manipur and Nagaland to bust the drug cartel.