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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 21:08 GMT 22:08 UK
UN report flags up India drug use
By Dan Isaacs
BBC News, Delhi

A British soldier photographs opium poppies in southern Afghanistan
Heroin grown in Afghanistan and Burma is moved through India
A new report has highlighted increasing concern over the rise in drug abuse in north-eastern India.

The prevalence of intravenous drug-taking has had a serious impact on the spread of HIV and Aids in the region, the report says.

It is also concerned by weak border controls with Burma which allow the easy trafficking of heroin into India.

The report was published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and the Indian government.

India has long been recognised as a transit route for drug traffickers moving heroin from the opium producing areas of Afghanistan and Burma and on through India to the rest of the world.

Inevitably that has led to a rise in heroin addiction within India itself over the years.

But this new report highlights the growing concern over the abuse not just of opiates, but a range of pharmaceutical products.


Ironically, it is the tightening of controls on heroin trafficking that has forced many drug users to switch to "over-the-counter" medicines often sold illegally by unscrupulous pharmacists.

These have to be injected rather than smoked, which has drastically increased the spread of HIV infection not just within the drug using group, but to their sexual partners as well.

There is, says the report, an urgent need for gathering better data on drug use and HIV infection from the remote north-east states of India, and for drug-user support programmes at the local level.

One approach the report says has been particularly effective is the involvement of reformed drug addicts to work within the community helping current users overcome their own addiction.

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