Punjab, the land of five rivers, located in the north west of India, is one of the smallest and most prosperous states of India. With agricultural fields epitomizing the spirit of the entire country, Punjab is the food pocket of the country, leading India’s green revolution and transforming the landscape into a food-surplus country. Rich in cultural diversity, architectural monuments, historic palaces, spiritual sites and movements led by youth: this is the picture of a decade old Punjab.
Now imagine a state trying to keep its head above water due to substance and alcohol abuse. A state where the power of the youth is now dormant, for now, high numbers of youth addicted to drugs has become a national problem. This is the modern Punjab, where 73.5% of the youth between 16 and 35 years old are confirmed drug addicts, according to reports from the Punjab government.
Punjab is facing the worst crisis it has ever known, and not in the form of disease or famine, but in the form of substance abuse. A weakening economy, soaring unemployment and unlimited accessibility to drugs have made the state a haven for substance abuse. Affluent families, and those living in destitution, are given numerous options to embrace of the vices of drug abuse.
Former head of state’s Anti-Narcotics Task Force (ANTF), Raj Pal Meena has stated: “Punjab is teetering on the edge of an extraordinary human crisis, with an inordinately large number of youngsters hooked on to marijuana, opium and heroin, in addition to abusing a range of prescriptive tablets.”