Drug addiction in Kashmir amongst the youths is a major issue, but has been ignored due to other bigger problems? With bloodshed and violence taking over Kashmir every other day, more and more youths are turning to drugs to smother their pain and anguish. A large number of youths who have been directly or indirectly affected by the violence have turned to drugs. But this is not the only reason.
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According to a report published by the United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) about 70 thousand people are drug addicts in the Kashmir valley, and 31% of them are women.
Drug Addiction in Kashmir
In July this year, J&K DGP SP Vaid described the drug menace as a ‘bigger challenge’ than terrorism. A study conducted by the Indian Army reveals that drugs have been pushed into the Valley from across the border. Sources from the Army’s de-addiction counselling centre highlighted stress as a major factor. “Easy availability of drugs makes the situation worse.
Apart from heroin and cocaine, brown sugar, SP tablets, Anxit cannabis is the most commonly used drug because it is easily available.” The youths also abuse opioids, shoe polish, paint varnish, and inhalants like Fevicol and SR solution (used for woodwork) and even snake venom.
In the past decade, there has been a tremendous spike in substance abusers in Kashmir. Several studies reveal that youth particularly in the age group 17 – 30 are involved. The Valley’s academicians have sadly commented: “we have lost one generation to bullets and we may lose another generation to drugs.”
Apart from the state’s turmoil, other reasons for drug addiction in Kashmir include unemployment and family conflict. To tackle this growing problem, the J&K police has been conducting awareness programs in Kashmir’s three districts – Srinagar, Baramulla and Anantnag.
Latest data from Srinagar’s Drug De-Addiction and Rehabilitation Centre highlight that “the total number of patients seen in the OPD from February 2008 – December 2016 is 15,294. Among the 15,294 patients 472, were diagnosed as alcohol abusers, 1359 as opioid abusers, 7860 as cannabis abusers, 352 cocaine abusers, 1080 as benzodiazepines users, 460 volatile abusers and 3741 were polydrug abusers (one who takes two or more drugs).
By Nandika Chand, Srinagar
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