Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot on Thursday suggested that drug addiction should be seen as an illness and "those suffering" from it must get appropriate counselling and treatment without any discrimination.
Inaugurating the 21st International Society of Addiction Medicine (ISAM) conference with the theme "addiction in a rapidly changing world" here, Gehlot said merely advising and educating the addicts is not enough and the need is to see them as people suffering from an illness.
"They should be given appropriate medicine and counselling and there is also the need to ensure that the treatment is easily available to everyone without discrimination," the minister said.
By 2020, almost one-third of India's population will be in the 15-34 age group and the changes in the society and increasing stress would become detrimental to this segment, he said.
This age group forms the bulk of country's work force and any problem that affects them would be of a grave concern, the minister said, adding that besides implementing the laws against substance abuse strictly, it is also important to reduce the demand for drugs.
"We need to teach our children and youth how to effectively cope with the problems in life and not to resort to alcohol and drugs," he said."They should be imparted skills to manage life in a positive way," Gehlot said, adding that practising yoga is of immense help in reducing stress and tension.
He said people face discrimination even after they quit the use of drugs and the society should help such individuals in getting back to a normal life and becoming its productive members.
On the occasion, South Asia representative of United Nation's Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Sergey Kapinos, AIIMS Director (Research) Chitra Sarkar and ISAM President Kathleen Brady highlighted the global trends on drug abuse and explained the steps to be taken to curb the menace.