Drug abuse, Narcotics Act, Drug ordinance & related policies


Drug abuse

Drug abuse is the use of illegal drugs or the use of prescription or over-the-counter medications in ways other than recommended or intended. It also includes intentional inhalation of household or industrial chemicals for their mind-altering effects. Tobacco use and problem drinking are sometimes included in the definition of drug abuse.[1]

Many drugs that are abused are also addictive; they cause cravings and a continued desire to use them despite negative consequences. Drug abuse can start in childhood and continue in adulthood. Studies of high school students indicate that approximately 42% drink alcohol, 21% use marijuana, and 3% use cocaine. Approximately 12% have used inhalants, and 20% have abused prescription drugs. [1]

Symptoms of drug abuse

Symptoms of drug abuse include those of intoxication and those related to unfulfilled responsibilities and the social consequences of drug use.

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Common symptoms drug abuse

Drug abuse can cause problems in interpersonal relationships, at home, on the job, and with the law. Symptoms of drug abuse related to these problems include:

Ø  Craving the drug despite difficulties obtaining it or wanting to quit

Ø  Deterioration of relationships

Ø  Deterioration of school or work performance

Ø  Difficulty holding a job

Ø  Disengagement from non–drug-related activities

Ø  Financial problems

Ø  High-risk sexual behavior

Ø  Increasing time spent thinking about, obtaining, using, and recovering from the drug

Ø  Leaving responsibilities unfulfilled

Ø  Legal problems

Ø  Needing higher doses to get the same effect (tolerance)

Ø  Using a drug to avoid its withdrawal symptoms

Ø  Using drugs before or during activities where safety is a concern

Common symptoms of drug intoxication

Drug use can lead to symptoms of intoxication including:

Ø  Balance problems, difficulty walking, and falls

Ø  Change in mental status

Ø  Changes in mood, personality or behavior

Ø  Diminished reflexes

Ø  Drowsiness or excessive energy

Ø  Impaired balance and coordination

Ø  Impaired judgment and memory

Ø  Impaired vision

Ø  Nausea with or without vomiting

Ø  Pupil size changes

Ø  Slurred speech; excessive talking [1]


Serious symptoms that might indicate a life-threatening condition

In some cases, drug abuse can be life threatening. 

Ø  Being a danger to oneself or others, including threatening, irrational, or suicidal behavior

Ø  Overdose symptoms, such as rapid or slow pulse; respiratory or breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, labored breathing, wheezing, not breathing, choking; abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea; cool and clammy skin or hot skin; sleepiness, chest pain, confusion or loss of consciousness for even a brief moment

Ø  Trauma, such as bone deformity, burns, eye injuries, and other injuries [1]

Causes of drug abuse

The cause of drug abuse is not known, nor is it understood why some people can abuse drugs briefly and stop without difficulty, whereas others continue using drugs despite undesirable consequences. Biological factors, such as genetics and the presence of other psychiatric disorders, may play a role, as may environmental factors, such as peer pressure, history of abuse, and stress, and developmental factors, such as the timing of drug exposure. [1]

Risk factors for drug abuse

A number of factors increase a person’s risk of abusing drugs. Not all people with risk factors will abuse drugs. Risk factors for drug abuse include:

Ø  Anxiety disorders or depression

Ø  Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder

Ø  Bipolar disorder

Ø  Early drug use

Ø  Lack of parental supervision

Ø  Male gender

Ø  Parental substance abuse

Ø  Peer pressure

ØPersonality disorders, such as antisocial behavioral disorder or borderline personality disorder

Ø  Physical or sexual abuse

Ø  Poor family communication or bonding

Ø  Stress [1]

Treatment of drug abuse

The goals of drug abuse treatment are aimed at stopping drug-seeking and use, preventing complications of drug withdrawal, rehabilitation, maintaining abstinence, and preventing relapse. Treatment depends on the drug being abused, whether addiction is present, and whether there are coexisting health or psychological problems.

Common treatment

Treatment of drug abuse is often an extended process involving multiple components including:

Ø  Cognitive behavioral therapy to work on thought patterns and behavior

Ø  Family therapy to help the family understand the problem and to avoid enabling drug use

Ø  Identification and treatment of coexisting conditions

Ø  Medications to decrease cravings, block withdrawal symptoms, counteract drug effects, or to cause unpleasant side effects if a drug is used

Ø  Motivational incentives to reinforce abstinence

Ø  Motivational interviewing to utilize a person’s readiness to change behaviors

Ø  Rehabilitation to assist those with severe addiction or coexisting mental illness through the initial stages of quitting

Ø  Supervised withdrawal (detoxification) to prevent, recognize and treat physical symptoms of withdrawal

Ø  Support groups [1]

Potential complications of drug abuse

Complications of untreated drug abuse can be serious, even life threatening in some cases. You can help minimize your risk of serious complications by following the treatment plan you and your health care professional design specifically for you. Complications of drug abuse include:

Ø  Brain damage, memory loss, attention difficulties, and impaired judgment

Ø  Cancer

Ø  Cardiac arrest

Ø  Cardiovascular disease

Ø  HepatitisHIV and AIDS, and other infectious diseases

Ø  Legal, academic, work and social problems

Ø  Liver, lung or kidney disease

Ø  Malnutrition

Ø Psychological changes, including aggressionparanoia, depression and hallucinations

Ø  Respiratory arrest

Ø  Stroke

Ø  Stupor or coma

Ø  Withdrawal symptoms [1]

Narcotics Act

The newly amended law in the Narcotics Control Act 2018 imposes the death penalty or life term imprisonment on drug traders, restricting their release from punishment for such crimes. [2]

Previously Bangladesh had no adequate and enabling law to handle the sordid condition created by drug abuse and the related issues. All that we had at that time were some colonial laws (the Opium Act, 1878, the Excise Act 1909, the Dangerous Drugs Act 1930, the Opium Smoking Act 1932 and the Prohibition Rules, 1950) inherited from the British and Pakistan period. These laws were intended and designed for earning government revenues through excise levying activities. These laws, however, proved to be inadequate to suit the needs of the time. The Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh enacted the Narcotics Control Act in 1990 repealing all the colonial laws with a view to encountering drug problem true to the aspiration of our society. [3]

The Narcotics Control Act 1990

The Narcotics Control Act, 1990 was passed in 1990 by repealing all previous laws for control of narcotics, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts. The government has enacted the Narcotics Control Act, 1990 as amended in 2000, 2002 and 2004 in order to update the law.

The Narcotics Control Act, 1990 (as amended in 2000, 2002 and 2004) has got the following salient features

1. The Narcotics Control Act. 1990 came into force on 2nd January, 1990.

2. It is a special law having predominance over other laws in respect of its ambit and jurisdiction on drugs and drug related issues.

3. Interception of illicit drug trafficking through law enforcement, control of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances used in medical, industrial and scientific purposes coupled with treatment and rehabilitation of the drug addicts underlie the propriety of this law.

4. It provides legal coverage for establishment of the Department of Narcotics Control (DNC) as the Nodal Agency of the government to fulfil the objectives of the law in question. It also provides the legal basis for formation of the National Narcotics Control Board (NNCB) as the highest policy-making body of the government for formulating necessary policies and strategies to combat drag problem in the country.

5. The Narcotics Control Act. 1990 empowers not only the Department of Narcotics Control but also the other agencies of the government like the Police, the BDR (the border security force), the Customs and the Coastguard for drug enforcement activities.

6. This law provides for mutual cooperation among the different law enforcement agencies as and when required for conduct of search, seizure and arrests.

7. The law introduces an effective licensing system for controlling import, export, manufacturing, processing, distribution, sale, transport, possession and use of licit narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and precursor chemicals.

8. This law prescribes deterrent punishment for various categories of drug offences as well as for breach of the conditions of the licenses issued under the law.

9. The law prescribes the highest penalty of death sentence for the offenders accused of possessing either heroin or cocaine or cocaine derivatives exceeding the quantity of 25 grams. Similarly the illegal possession of pethidine or morphine or possession of tetra-hydro-canabinal exceeding the quantity of 10 grams renders the offender or offenders concerned liable to death sentence or life-long imprisonment. Death sentence has also been prescribed for certain other drug offences of serious nature

10. The law takes the wisdom of the three major UN Conventions and the SAARC Convention on narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances particularly in regard to forfeiture of sale proceeds of illegal drug business, freezing of bank accounts and properties, sending of juvenile offenders to the correction centre in lieu of imprisonment, inclusion of the controlled delivery technique, compulsory maintenance of accounts of licit drugs by the license holders, incorporation of the 22 precursor chemicals and so on.

11. The law provides the legal basis for the Chemical Laboratory of the DNC and its proper functioning in respect of forensic analysis of all seized drugs and suspicious substances. This lab, established in Dhaka, caters to the needs of all the agencies charged with the responsibilities of drug enforcement and thereby it plays an important role in quick disposal of drug cases under trial.

12. The amendment of 2000 to the law brings about the government first venture into the control of precursor chemicals from drug control point of view.

13. An amendment of 2002 has introduced the minimum time limit of 15 days for completion of investigation of drug cases filed under this law.

14. Another amendment in 2004 redefines alcohol by reducing the lowest limit of alcoholic strength from 5% to only 0.5%. Any liquid preparation containing more than 0.5% alcohol shall fall within the purview of the law. This amendment is intended for safeguarding our young generations from the clutches of the so-called energy (alcoholic) drinks and their bad impacts.

15. The law has got 61 Sections in all. It has got two Schedules of which the first schedule lists the narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances including the 22 precursor chemicals. The second schedule on the other hand lays down the rates of excise duties to be imposed on the domestically produced liquor and alcoholic spirit.

16. The law is a unique combination of legal provisions comprising violation sections, penal sections, hybrid sections (prescribing violation and punishment together), modus operandi sections and administrative sections.

Adorned with the foregoing features, the Narcotics Control Act. 1990 (as amended in 2000, 2002 and 2004) stands to be adequate and enabling enough to meet the challenge of the time. [3]

Drug ordinance & related policies

An ordinance is to control manufacture, import, distribution and sale of drugs. Now, THEREFORE, in pursuance of the Proclamation of the 24th March, 1982, and in exercise of all powers enabling him in that behalf, the Chief Martial Law Administrator is pleased to make and promulgate the following Ordinance: —

The drugs (control) ordinance, 1982

1. Short title.— This Ordinance may be called the Drugs (Control) Ordinance, 1982.

2. Application of other Laws, etc.— The provisions of this Ordinance shall be in addition to, and not in derrogation of, the Drugs Act, 1940 (XXIII of 1940), and any other law for the timebeing in force and shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in that Act or in any such law or in any contract, agreement or document.

3. Definitions.—

(1) In this Ordinance, unless there is anything repugnant in this subject or context,

(a) "Act" means the Drugs Act, 1940 (XXIII of 1940);

(b) "Committee" means the Drugs Control Committee constituted under this Ordinance ;

(c) "Council" means the National Drugs Advisory Council constituted under this Ordinance :

(d) "Drug" shall have the same meaning as in the Act and shall also include any substance exclusively used or prepared for use in accordance with the ayurvedic, unani and homeopathic or biochemic system of medicine;

(c) "Schedule" means Schedule to this Ordinance.

(2) Words and expressions used but not defined in this Ordinance shall have the same meaning as in the Act.

4. Drug Control Committee. —

(1) The Government shall constitute a Drug Control Committee consisting of a Chairman and such other members as it may appoint from time to time.

(2) The Committee shall perform such functions as are specified in this Ordinance.

5. Registration of Medicines.—

 (1) No medicine of any kind shall be manufactured for sale or be imported, distributed or sold unless it is registered with the licencing authority.

(2) The licencing authority shall not register a medicine unless such registration is recommended by the Committee.

(3) A registration shall be granted on such conditions as may be specified by the licencing authority.

(4) A registration shall, unless cancelled earlier, be valid for a period of five years.

6. Cancellation or suspension of registration. —

 (1) The licencing authority may cancel the registration of any medicine if the Committee recommends such cancellation.

(2) The Committee shall evaluate every medicine registered

(3) If on such evaluation the Committee finds that any such medicine is not sale, efficacious or useful it may recommend to the licencing authority cancellation of registration of the medicine.

(4) The licencing authority may, if it is satisfied that a medicine is substandard, 7. Fees for registration.— No registration of a medicine shall be granted unless a fee to be determined by the Government is paid at the time of application for registration.

8. Prohibition of Manufacture, etc, of certain medicines

9. Restriction on import of certain pharmaceutical raw material

10. Restriction on manufacture of certain drugs under licence

11. Fixation of price of drugs

12. Review of certain licencing agreement with foreign concerns

13. Employment of pharmacists. — (i) No person shall manufacture any drug except under the personal supervision of a pharmacist registered in Register 'A' of the Pharmacy Council of Bangladesh

 (2) No person, being a retailer, shall sell any drug without the personal supervision of a pharmacist registered in any Register of the Pharmacy Council of Bangladesh

14. Control of advertisement and claims in respect of drugs

15. Good practices in the manufacturer and quality control of drugs

16. Penalty for manufacture, etc., of certain drugs.—

17. Penalty for manufacture or sale of sub-standard drugs

19. Penalty for sale of medicine or import or sale of pharmaceutical raw material at a higher price

20. Penalty for theft, etc., of Government drugs

21. Penalty for illegal advertisement and claims

22. Cognizance of offences

23. Drug Courts.—

(1) The Government may, by notification in the official Gazette establish as many Drug Courts as it considers necessary and where it establishes more than one Drug Court shall specify in the notification the territorial limits within which each one of them shall exercise jurisdiction under this Ordinance.

(2) A Drug Court shall consist of a person who is or has been a Sessions Judge and he shall be appointed by the Government.

(3) A Drug Court shall sit at such place as the Government may direct.

24. National Drug Advisory Council, —

(1) The Government shall constitute a National Drug Advisory Council consisting of a Chairman and such oilier members as it may appoint from time to lime.

(2) The Council shall advise the Government on—

(a) measures to be adopted for the implementation of the national drug policy that may be adopted by the Government from time to time;

(b) measures for the promotion of local pharmaceutical industries and production and supply of essential drugs for meeting the needs of the country.

(c) matters relating to the import of drugs and pharmaceutical raw materials.

(d) measures for the co-ordination of the activities of the various Ministries, agencies and persons dealing with manufacture, import, distribution and sale of drugs.

25. Power to make rules. — The Government may, be notification in the official Gazelle, make rules for carrying out the purposes of this Ordinance. [4]


1.     Drug Abuse By  Healthgrades Editorial Staff

2.     https://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2018/12/21/revised-narcotics-control-law-gets-tough-with-drug-traders

3.     https://www.thedailystar.net/law/2009/06/04/review.htm

4.     THE DRUGS (CONTROL) ORDINANCE, 1982 Ordinance No. VIII of 1982 [Published in the Bangladesh Gazette, Extraordinary, dated the 12th June, 1982.]

5.     An overview of waste management in pharmaceutical industry ,Muhammed Jaseem, Pramod Kumar and Remya Mariam

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