According to government data, use of synthetic party drugs have increased manifold in the last five years in India.
Meanwhile, the use of conventional substances like cocaine, heroin, and hashish have remained static or decreased.
Marijuana remains the most seized drug in India at more than 2 lakh kgs, according to 2016 Narcotic Control Bureau (NCB) data.
Synthetic drug abuse shows a generational shift
"People have more money now to buy such drugs. People don't come out to talk about these drugs, which makes treatment even more difficult," said Dr. Nimesh Desai, director of the Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS).
Increasing amounts of confiscated drugs indicate rise in volume
Confiscation of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) like MDMA increased from 40kg in 2012 to 1,687kg in 2016.
Similarly, confiscation of ephedrine increased from 4,393kg in 2012 to 21,272kg in 2016.
Meanwhile, 24,107kg of Mandrax of methaqualone was seized in 2016 as opposed to 216kg in 2012.
Arrests of smugglers and peddlers also increased manifold - from 13,871 in 2012 to 38,975 in 2016.
Do you know?
Cocaine seizure has almost gone down by half
Interestingly, despite the meteoric rise in confiscation of synthetic drugs, cocaine seizure went down from 44kg in 2012 to 28kg in 2016. Officials believe that the prohibitive price of cocaine is prompting people into shifting to cheaper, synthetic drugs.
Medical experts blame internet for rise in substance use
Medical experts blamed the meteoric rise in substance use in India on widespread internet use.
Exposure to various perspectives, experiences, and literature on drugs, and availability of drugs on the internet has increased the tendency of people to experiment.
Moreover, the sheer amount of literature with contradictory views available on the internet creates ambiguity around the nature of substances leading to more experimentation.
Problems related to substance abuse has increased manifold
"In clinical practice, there has been over a five-fold increase in adolescents coming for problems related to substance use in under a decade," said Dr. Samir Parikh, the director of mental health and behavioural sciences at Fortis Hospital, New Delhi.