The incidence of drug abuse among children and adolescents is higher than the general population. This is notably because youth is a time for experimentation and identity forming. Many street children use cheap drugs to cope with the daily cycles of sexual, physical and mental abuse or as recreation to escape a life of poverty. Heroin, Opium, Alcohol, Cannabis and Propoxyphene are the five most common drugs being abused by children in India. Children affected by substance abuse are considered as children in need of care and protection under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000.
Substance abuse by a 14-year-old child
CHILDLINE India Foundation received a call which informed them about Raju, a 14-year-old destitute child living on the platform of Kharagpur railway station. Raju had left his home when he was seven and did not remember any details of his family other than that he was from Bihar. Raju earned his living by begging and sweeping trains. When CHILDLINE India Foundation met with him Raju was in a very bad shape. He suffered from malnutrition, was detected with tuberculosis and due to constantly inhaling ‘Dendrite’ (a popular glue inhaled by street children) he suffered from acute breathing problems. He was then referred to a hospital but the superintendent refused to give the child any free treatment. With the help of CHILDLINE India Foundation and other authorities Raju was treated for free. The boy was moved to a different hospital for a specialized treatment. Although recovered, Raju continued living and working on platform. CHILDLINE India Foundation linked him with a school for platform children where his case would be followed up in the long term.
(*Name and details changed to protect the child)