Substance Abuse in India

Substance Abuse. Legal implications in India.

Substance abuse refers to the excessive use of a drug in a way that is detrimental to self, society or both. This definition includes both physical dependence and psychological dependence. Physical dependence is caused by prolonged use of a drug in which withdrawal symptoms develop when the drug is discontinued. Psychologic dependence refers to the intense need to continue taking a drug in absence of physical dependence.

In some cases, criminal or anti-social behaviour occurs when the person is under the influence of a drug. Further, long-term personality changes in individuals may also occur.

Different kinds of abusive substances and symptoms / signs

Drugs may be categorized or classified according to certain shared symptoms, signs or effects shown by drug addicts.

  1. Central Nervous System ECNSF Depressants: Slow down the operations of the brain and the body. Examples include alcohol, and anti-anxiety tranquillizers.
  2. CNS Stimulants: Accelerate the heart rate and elevate the blood pressure.Examples include cocaine and methamphetamine.
  3. Hallucinogens: Hallucinogens cause the user to perceive things differentlythan they actually are. Examples include LSD and MDMA.
  4. Dissociative Anaesthetic: Drugs that inhibit pain by cutting off ordissociating the brain’s perception of the pain.
  5. Narcotic Analgesics: Create mood changes in the user. Examples includeopium, heroin and morphine etc.
  6. Inhalants: Includes a wide variety of breathable substances. Examplesinclude toluene, gasoline, thinners and hair sprays etc.
  7. Cannabis: The scientific name for marijuana. This category include cannabinoids.

Legal Implications in India

Drugs such as cannabis or marijuana had been used since world war and their use can even be traced to the Vedic period. In India, there were no laws against drug abuse until the year 1985. Cannabis was legally sold and commonly used for recreational purposes. The Indian government to eliminate ethnically deep-seated use of cannabis enacted the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, in the year 1985 banning all narcotic drugs in India.

Under the NDPS Act, it is illicit for a person to produce or manufacture/cultivate, possess, sell, purchase, transport, store, and/or consume any narcotic drug or psychotropic substance. The Narcotics Control Bureau was set up under the NDPS Act with effect from March 1986. The Narcotics Control Bureau ENCBF is the chief law enforcement and intelligence agency of India vested with the responsibility to fight drug trafficking and the abuse of illegal substances.

The most recent case on drug possession of an actress was questioned by the Narcotics Control Bureau in connection with her in the Sushant Singh Rajput Death case.


  • where the contravention involves small quantity(<1 kg), with rigorous imprisonment may extend to 6 months or with fine which may extend to ₹10,000.
  • where the contravention involves quantity lesser than commercial quantity but greater than small quantity, with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to 10 years and with a fine which may extend to ₹1 lakh.
  • where the contravention involves commercial quantity, rigorous imprisonment may extend to 20 years or with a fine not less than ₹1 lakh, which may extend to ₹2 lakh.
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