There are an estimated 1.5 million drug users in Nepal, 61.4 per cent of whom are injecting drug users. As the number of drug pushers has gone up, this evil habit is fast turning into a social catastrophe. To avert this eventuality, the National Drug Policy was drafted in 2006 (with an aim to control the supply and consumption of narcotic drugs). Although the policy is fairly sound, lack of coordination between civil society and government bodies is seriously hampering its effective implementation. The failure to include drug users in such plans has been another handicap.
Drug users are a marginalised group and frowned upon in Nepali society. All effective anti-drug programmes around the world focus on providing a caring environment and proper rehabilitation facilities for drug users. Until those concerned create an atmosphere where drug-related issues can be dealt with openly, the existing drug users are unlikely to come out with their problems. Still more important in this media-driven era is to give the right message to youngsters about the perils of prolonged drug abuse. Unless they take staying away from drugs as "cool" rather than indulging in it, more and more youngsters are likely to be lured by drugs. Only a joint endeavour of drug users, social sector organisations and government will help solve the drug crisis.