Rising Trends Of Substance Abuse In India

Rising Trends Of Substance Abuse In India

Substance abuse in India is on the increase. In all areas of the country, people are taking increasing numbers of substances. But which drugs are being taken? And why?

In this blog from Samarpan Recovery, we investigate this worrying trend, and explore the most common drugs used in India.

Rapid Urbanization

The 2001 census in India showed that 28.53% of Indians lived in Urban areas. In 2017, the figure had risen to 34%, according to the World Bank. It is expected that a full 40.76% of the country’s population will live in urban areas by 2030.

The reasons for this are easy to see. Countryside dwellers in India are able to earn far more in cities than they are in the countryside. And there is far more to do in cities, meaning that people who do well after moving to an urban area can partake in a wide variety of recreational activities.

Unfortunately, urban environments also offer residents access to substances that are not common in the countryside. Drugs like heroin and crystal meth are readily available in cities in India, and often come for a low price, meaning even relatively impoverished people can afford them.

Changing Cultural Values

The past few decades have seen enormous change in India. Modernization has brought with it more advanced technologies, better infrastructure and more diverse viewpoints. It is clear that there are benefits to certain advancements within India.

But changes can also bring problems. We have seen centuries old traditions eradicated in India in a short space of time. These traditions brought communities together, and losing them means that some communities are not as tight-knit as they once were.

When neighborhoods become less friendly, it can become easier for people to fall through the cracks, falling victim to drug and alcohol addiction, and contributing to the increase of substance abuse in India.

Increased Stress

Modernity has also brought with it increased levels of stress for Indian people. The poor of India must continue to work hard to sustain themselves, with the middle class and upper classes now working hard to maintain outward appearances of success.

Of course, there is nothing wrong with hard work to attain a good standard of living, but when life revolves around material goods, happiness levels tend to go down.

The increased stress that comes from excessive work can be too much for some people, causing them to use drugs and alcohol to calm their nerves. Using substances as a coping mechanism in this way is a recipe for disaster, as addiction can quickly become a problem.

Breakdown Of Nuclear Family

The family unit is still an integral part of Indian culture, but ties in some families are not quite as close as they once were. In the past, these ties prevented some people from falling victim to substance abuse in India. Families experiencing breakdown may contribute towards the rise of substance addiction rates.

Most Common Drugs Used In India

Now we have looked at why substance abuse in India is increasing, let's take a look at some of the most popular drugs used within the country. All of these drugs can be harmful and cause addiction.


Cannabis has a long history of use in India. Holy people use it to commune with God, ayurvedic medicines call upon it for healing, and it is even said that Shiva uses cannabis.

This leads many Indian people to believe that cannabis is harmless. The sad reality is that cannabis can cause enormous mental health problems, and can also be addictive.


Opioids are another of the most common drugs used in India. The most popular opioids are opium and heroin. Both of these drugs produce a feeling of ease when they are taken. While opium is usually smoked, it can also be eaten. Heroin, on the other hand, is usually either smoked, snorted or injected.

Heroin is a processed form of opium. It is significantly stronger than opium, which means that it is both easier to get hooked on and to overdose on.

The largest numbers of heroin users are found in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Manipur and Bihar, though heroin users are now seen in every state in India.

Crystal Meth

While meth is currently used by far less people in India than heroin, its use is on the increase. This powerful drug can be made relatively simply using ingredients that can be bought in a pharmacy.

Drug syndicates in India produce vast quantities of meth regularly, and have now made India one of the leading countries for crystal meth production in the world.

This industrial scale production means meth is very cheap in India, allowing even those from impoverished backgrounds to afford it.

Crystal meth gives users feelings of alertness and euphoria, and can enable people to stay awake for days without the need to sleep. It is common for people in India to use crystal meth to work hard for long periods of time without rest.

Meth is also used recreationally, though anyone doing this is playing with fire, as meth is incredibly addictive, and can cause serious harm to the body and mind.


Cocaine is far more expensive than the other drugs on this list, and costs around 7000 rupees ($85 USD) per gram. While the rest of the drugs in this list are either produced in India or in a neighboring country, cocaine is manufactured only in South American countries, which adds to its cost.

Cocaine use is becoming more common for people in the upper class, and as a result rich indian people are becoming addicted to cocaine. Drug addiction affects everyone, regardless of socioeconomic background, religion, ethnicity or sex.


The most commonly used drug in India, and also one of the most harmful. Until a few decades ago alcohol use was frowned upon in the country. It is now far more socially acceptable. And while there are some states where alcohol use is forbidden, there are pubs and clubs in the vast majority of India cities.

While some people can go out for a few beers and go home, a percentage of the population is unable to regulate their drinking, and are drawn to drink excessively each time they drink alcohol. Many of these people ultimately end up with severe alcohol problems.

Chronic alcohol abuse can cause cirrhosis of the liver, among a vast number of other physical and mental ailments. And addiction to alcohol can be particularly tricky to deal with, due to alcohol’s ubiquitous nature.

Even when someone does not succumb to the health problems caused by chronic alcohol abuse, drinking alcohol can cause problems with the law and the breakdown of relationships.

Solutions To Substance Abuse In India

At an individual level, the most effective way of treating substance abuse in India is by attending an addiction treatment centre. India now offers centres such as Samarpan Recovery near Pune, where people with addiction can go and receive international quality addiction treatment.

Treatment at Samarpan supports clients with medical detoxification and evidence-based treatment in luxurious surroundings.

Samarpan is a specialized international Substance Use Disorder (De-Addiction) and Process Addiction rehab in Pune, India that accepts a maximum of 26 clients. We only accept clients on a voluntary basis and have a highly structured program that encompasses the most effective approaches to Substance Use Disorder and addiction. The facility is set in the rolling hills Mulshi, with clients having either individual or shared rooms, in a modern resort-like facility, staffed by Internationally Accredited Professionals. Samarpan is fully licensed under The MSMHA and is also an accredited GORSKI-CENAPS Centre of Excellence offering a program from 5 to 13 weeks.

If you or someone you care about is considering treatment for substance use disorder or process addictions, we can help. Contact us now on admissions@samarpan.in or phone/WhatsApp us on +91 81809 19090.

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