Drug Abuse in the Global Village
Drug Abuse in Asia
Characteristics of Drug Abuse in South Asia


Results of surveys on patients in drug abuse treatment centres have shown that 32 per cent of the sample were illiterate, while 2.7 per cent had postgraduate education. The majority (65.5 per cent) were between 21 and 30 years of age. A quarter of the drug abusers were unemployed. Of those employed, 28 per cent were engaged in small businesses and 12 per cent were heavy vehicle drivers (CMO 1990). According to recent reports on drug abuse trends in Dhaka, heroin abusers are all male, 85 per cent between 20 and 34 years of age, about 50 per cent educated to secondary school level and 25 per cent considered illiterate (DNC 1991). Cannabis abuse is reported mainly among students (U.N. 1990).

No information reported by 31st December 1993.

Studies on drug abuse in 1989 indicate that drug dependence is concentrated among males and is prevalent among all religious and caste groups. Drug abuse is most pronounced among the 16-35 year age group. Abusers tend to be literate and are unemployed, transport workers or students. Abuse of traditional drugs like opium and cannabis is more prevalent among low socio-economic groups (Ministry of Welfare 1992). Heroin is abused mostly by urban dwellers, especially in metropolitan areas and in the north-eastern states (INCB 1992).Drug abuse is attributed to poverty, family problems, strains of modern life, peer pressures and experimentation (Ministry of Welfare 1992)


The abuse of cannabis is reported most prevalent in the 20 to 29 age group. Most cannabis abusers are unemployed (U.N. 1987).

The majority of drug addicts in treatment centres are males (94.5 per cent in 1986) (Nepal 1993). Small-scale studies have shown that 90 per cent of drug addicts were between 15 and 30 years old and the majority (90 per cent) had started taking drugs before the age of 25 (Nepal 1993). According to a school survey, the mean age of initial drug abuse including tobacco and alcohol is between 14 (tobacco) and 16 (heroin) years. Cannabis is reported abused by persons in the 14 to 40 age range, heroin in the 15 to 30 age group, opium in the 20 to 45 age range and psychotropic substances between 14 and 38 years old (U.N. 1990). Drug abusers are reported to come from all social classes. Unemployment and low income are reported to have some correlation with drug abuse (CMO 1991).

Most abusers are males, however 2.4 per cent of the heroin abusers and about 5 per cent of the cannabis abusers are women (U.N. 1989).
Most abusers of heroin range from 18-35 years of age whereas most abusers of cannabis range from 20-45 years of age (U.N. 1990).
The abuse of cannabis cross all social and age strata but is most concentrated among the older low-income class in urban areas (U.N. 1990). Most abusers of heroin are school dropouts, unemployed or unskilled employees like petty-businessmen and the majority of them are from broken families (U.N. 1988).