The substance abuse potential of poppy pods is one of the oldest known drugs on the planet. In India, the dried powder of these crushed up pods is known as doda. It’s usually steeped in a tea or dissolved in water. Doda remains one of the country’s most popular drugs today, but the old-world drug found a new home and brought with it a host of other financial and addiction problems.
According to the India news site HindustanTimes.com, the Indo-Canadian community, specifically in the Greater Toronto Area, has been using doda as a gateway drug to heroin, cocaine, and other harder narcotics. It’s the same sort of problem Punjab is facing, which is where many Indo-Canadians trace their roots directly back to.
“That culture was brought back here,” said former Brampton City Councillor Vicky Dhillon.
The addiction problems in Punjab have been well documented both through anecdotal and researched data. A recent article from Indian news source FirstPost.com reported concrete as well as anecdotal evidence.
According to one study by the department of Social Security Development of Women and Children, 67% of households in Punjab have at least one member with an addiction. Another study by the Narcotics Bureau found that 40% of the men in Punjab are addicted to some drug.
Doda didn’t become illegal in Canada until 2010, and by that time, many users had already become addicted to the drug’s narcotic properties. When the plant-based substance was removed from store shelves, many users naturally turned to heroin to feed their fix. Overall, substance abuse has cost the Canadian health care system about $8 billion.
One non-profit de-addiction center, the Punjabi Community Health Services (PCHS), has seen nearly a 100% increase in rehab patients this year.
Due to the expensive nature of such habits, and the legal and health complications, the addiction is causing a “huge” problem in the community, according to the de-addiction center’s CEO.
“We’re merely scratching the surface,” said PCHS CEO Baldev Mutta.