‘Drug abusers should be rehabilitated, not punished’

Kathmandu, June 26

Home Minister Shakti Bahadur Basnet has stressed on rehabilitating drug abusers, instead of punishing them.

Addressing a special function organised by the Ministry of Home Affairs in the capital to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking-2016 today, Basnet said Nepal was not left untouched by the global problem of drug abuse.

“Growing drug abuse has been a matter of serious concern and it is important to rehabilitate drug abusers instead of punishing them, in order to protect families, society, and the country from further suffering. No drug abusers should be deprived of their rights to treatment,” Minister Basnet said.

The theme of this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking was ‘Listen First’, an initiative to increase support for prevention of drug abuse through scientific measures, which would be an effective investment for the well-being of those addicted to drugs, their families, and their communities.

Home Secretary Narayan Gopal Malego informed that the government was working to amend the existing Narcotics Drugs (Control) Act - 1976.

IGP Upendra Kant Aryal said the crackdown on possession, sale, and smuggling of drugs was a priority to the Nepal Police. He added that over 30 per cent of prisoners across the country had been incarcerated on drugs related charges.

According to the latest survey report ‘Current Hard Drug Users in Nepal, 2013’ published by the MoHA, most drug abusers were young men and women, and many have died of overdose and excessive abuse. Drug abuse is a serious challenge as it affects the health and life of the drug user, and the social well-being of the family and community.

The report painted a gloomy picture of drug abusers in the country, especially in urban centres. According to the report, the number of drug users has dramatically increased in between the two survey periods.

While there were altogether 46,309 drug abusers in 2007, the number has nearly doubled to 91,534 in 2013, marking a roughly 98 per cent increase in six years.

The annual growth rate of drug users is 11.36 per cent.

The highest number of drug users are in the Valley (36,998), followed by Sunsari (7,407), Kaski (6,917), Morang (6,415), Jhapa (6,008), Rupandehi (5,997) Chitwan (4515), Banke (4,050) and Parsa (2,130). There are 11,097 drug users in the rest of the country.