Number of young injecting drug users growing despite government's 'war on drugs' in Manipur

Taking serious note of the concerning drug issue facing Manipur, the Imphal Free Press recently visited several centres in Imphal area and carried out a survey to access the ground situation.

ByPhurailatpam Keny Devi

Updated 25 Mar 2022, 4:22 pm

(Representational Image: Pexels)
(Representational Image: Pexels)


Manipur has been witnessing an alarming increase in the number of young substance dependent people turning into injecting drug users (IDUs) despite the highly popular ‘War on Drugs’ launched by the state government in 2018 to make Manipur a drug free state. It has also come to light that the number of injecting drug users is much higher than oral drugs users in large percentage in the state. Taking serious note of the concerning issue facing the state, the Imphal Free Press recently visited several private de-addiction and rehabilitation centres set up at many places in the capital city Imphal area and carried out a survey to access the ground situation.

In view of the unstoppable increase in the number of drug users in the state, private de-addiction and rehabilitation centres set up at several places across the state in the hills and valley areas aim to contribute towards containing drug-related problems faced by thousands of families by facilitating treatment service for the affected.

During the visit to Punsi De-addiction and Rehabilitation Centre, Ishikha, Yumnam Khunnou-II in Imphal East, it was found that as many as 1,013 substance use dependent persons were enrolled for treatment so far. Among this total figure, 83 per cent of the inmates are IDUs while 17 per cent are oral drug users, a report provided by the centre shows.

The report by centre, which was established in 2012, also stated that 10 to 15 years before, Spasmo-Proxibon (local code SP) and other chemicals that contain codeine (opiate derivatives) were common among the drug users. However in the last five years or so, the choice of drug has shifted mostly to heroine (local code Number 4).

About the age of initiation of using drugs, the report provided by the centre shows that 92 per cent of the total enrolled clients initiated substance use before 18 years of age and eight per cent of them after 20 years of age. The average number of admission at the centre in a month is eight substance users.


According to a report provided by the SAIYON Drug De-addiction and Research Centre which was established in 2015, located at Yourabung Eyampal, Imphal East, so far 921 clients were enrolled since its inception. Of the total enrollment, 77 per cent i.e. 636 are IDUs, 13 per cent i.e. 204 of them are alcoholic, 2.49 per cent (23) of them use heroine orally and remaining 6.29 per cent (58) of the abuse pills, marijuana and other psychoactive substance.

The proportion of enrollment age between 18 to 29 years increased from 58 per cent in 2016 to 64 per cent in 2022. On the other hand, enrollment age from 30 to 45 years and above was 42 per cent in 2016 and 36 per cent in 2022.

They also reported initiation into drugs was around 20 years of age. But since the past few years, it has reduced to 17 years of age. The average number of new enrollment in their centre is 13 in a month.

During the visit to the GoodWill Home Rehabilitation Centre at Nambol, it was found that as many as 2,456 inmates were enrolled in the centre so far. Of the total enrollment, 70 per cent of them are IDUs. Most of the inmates enrolled in the centre are in the age group between 25 to 35 years. The average rate of new admission is 15.

Rehabilitation centre, The Overcomers INC Institute for Addiction and Alcoholism, located at Langol, Imphal West also informed that till date, the centre has 488 inmates, 75 per cent of which are IDUs. The maximum number of inmates is between the age of 18 to 30 years. On an average, 12 inmates are enrolled every month. The kind of drugs commonly used by the inmates at the centre are heroine, brown sugar, Spasmo Proxyvon tablet, Nitrosun 10 tablet, alcohol, cannabis etc.

A recent study also found that many youth dropped out or could not complete their studies because of their dependency on substance use.

The report of Punsi De-addiction and Rehabilitation Centre also shows that around 50 per cent of their clients had quit education due to drug use. While remaining 50 per cent try to continue their studies after quitting drugs, only five per cent of them were able to do it.

A total of 71 per cent of clients at SAIYON Drug De-addiction Centre are school or college drop-outs.  In Goodwill Home Rehabilitation Centre, 40 per cent of their inmates are school or college drop-outs because of being addicted to drugs. Similarly, the number of school drop-out inmates in The Overcomers INC Institute for Addiction and Alcoholism is 40 per cent.

The report of the above mentioned rehabilitation centres also pointed out that easy and abundant availability of drugs, social and subculture trend (festivals, occasions, ceremonies etc), low self-esteem, peer pressure, out of curiosity, inappropriate education system or lack of nurturing children in positive or healthy aspects of life and poor parenting are some of the major cause of drug addiction among young population in the state.

As an outcome of their efforts, some had overcome addiction. However, the number seems to be low.

The Punsi De-addiction and Rehabilitation Centre stated that their annual recovery is 23 per cent, however, the recovery rate in the last one decade is 19 per cent. While the annual recharge rate of SAIYON is 10.3 per cent. For GoodWill Home Rehabilitation Centre, the recovery rate is 25 per cent and The Overcomers INC Institute of Addiction and Alcoholism is five per cent.

Speaking to the Imphal Free Press, Users' Society for Effective Response (USER) Manipur president Maibam Jogesh Singh pointed out that the state has been struggling against issues of drug menace for 40 years. Instead of the cases diminishing, the problem is intensifying due to many factors.


Jogesh, who is also the managing trustee of the Punsi De-addiction and Rehabilitation Centre, further shared that the easy availability of drugs at cheaper rate has resulted in the surge in the number of IDUs in the state. Besides, the reduction in stigma among IDUs due to reduction of HIV transmission from them also pushed the number of IDUs presently.

"Various programmes under NACO were launched to address HIV epidemic in Manipur and HIV transmission has been reduced successfully. As an impact of it, fear about HIV that existed at one time has come down. This has led many youth to inject drugs without any fear. Along with this, massive poppy cultivation and easy availability of drugs at affordable prices are major reasons behind the unstoppable increase in the number of IDUs in the state," he explained.

Considering IDUs as one of the high risk groups of HIV transmission, NACO launched the harm reduction programme which was implemented in 2002 to control HIV transmission among IDUs or from IDUs to non-IDUs. The Manipur State AIDS Control Organization in association with many NGOs has been implementing the NACO programme.

Jogesh further said that IDUs self-proclaimed not sharing contaminated syringe or needles  or other equipment used in drugs injection. However, the possibility of sharing such items always exists.

"On an average, a regular drug user requires at least 4 to 5 syringe in a day to fixed their dose. Situation of shortage of needles and syringes would be surely dface by IDUs one day or other. Such circumstances will compel them to share needles or syringe with their colleagues," he added.

While claiming constant increase of IDUs will affect in achieving the target of HIV elimination in the state, Jogesh said that HIV infection rate amongst IDUs has been decreasing since the past one decade or so. However, regular screening carried out in their respective rehabilitation centres found high number of hepatitis C infection among the substance addicts.

"As a part of preventive measures, most of the rehabilitation centres conduct screening of common diseases suffered by drug dependent. In such screening, rehabilitation usually found nearly 50 per cent of inmates infected with Hepatitis C. This shows that sharing of contaminated needles, syringes and other items still continues," he added.

The present scenario of increasing number of IDUs in the state raises doubt about the state government’s commitment to make Manipur a drug-free state, and whether the state could achieve India’s commitment to eliminate HIV by 2030 which target was set by the World Health Organisation.

“If the trend of continuous increase of IDUs is not control effectively, the state may face the problem of HIV epidemic yet again. As such, time has arrived for people from every walk of life to make efforts towards combating the widespread drug menace that is growing constantly,” Jogesh added.

Jogesh said the state government should take the matter seriously with the help of all stakeholders. It is high time that the government frame sustainable, feasible and comprehensive policies and programmes, earmarking separate budget to address several drug-related issues facing the state.



First published:


Manipurwar on drugsinjecting drug usersIDUsyoung drug users

Phurailatpam Keny Devi

Phurailatpam Keny Devi

IFP Reporter, IMPHAL, Manipur


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