1.68 lakh children among 13.5 lakh substance addicts in J&K: Parliamentary Panel

Seeks drug victims’ rehab, supply channel blockage
Representational Pic
Representational Pic

Srinagar, Aug 4: The Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment Friday submitted its report on Extent of Substance Abuse in Jammu and Kashmir to both the houses of the Parliament. Shockingly, the report revealed, an estimated 13.50-lakh adult individuals in the UT are drug users, a majority abusing heroin through injections.

The committee of 27 members from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha outlined the estimated number of drug users in two distinct age groups: children aged 10 to 17 years and adults aged 18 to 75 years.

For the age group of 10 to 17 years, approximately 1,68,700 children were reported as drug users in J&K, consuming substances such as cannabis, opioids, sedatives, cocaine, Amphetamine-Type Stimulants (ATS), inhalants, and hallucinogens.

Majority of these children were found to be using opioids and inhalants, while others were habituated to taking sedatives and cannabis.

Concerning the age group of 18 to 75 years, the committee informed the Parliament that 11,80,000 adults in J&K were drug users, with opioids being the most commonly abused substance, followed by cannabis, sedatives, and inhalants. Overall, the total number of drug users in J&K reaches 13,48,700, (nearly 13.5 lakh) and it is possible that the actual figure might be higher, as these estimates are based on the projected population in 2018.

When questioned about the measures taken to address the drug menace following the introduction of the National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR), the Standing Committee said that as per the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, funds were allocated for identification, motivation, counseling, de-addiction, aftercare, and rehabilitation of drug users.

Notably, during the financial years 2020-21 and 2021-22, the funds provided to NGOs and other entities in J&K under NAPDDR were relatively limited.

However, during 2022-23, the financial assistance was substantially increased to Rs 2.37 crore.

Regarding the establishment of District De-addiction Centres, the department assured the Standing Committee that significant efforts were being made in consultation with the J&K government to accomplish this objective.

The Standing Committee emphasised the importance of coordination among all relevant agencies in the region to effectively control drug trafficking, production, and distribution.

Furthermore, the report underscored the significance of preventive education, awareness generation, counseling, treatment, and rehabilitation of affected individuals.

The involvement of society at large was also deemed crucial in eradicating the drug menace.

The report highlighted that the victims of drug abuse were found to be using seven types of psychoactive substances, including cannabis, opioids, cocaine, amphetamine stimulants, sedatives, inhalants, and hallucinogens.

According to the 2019 report of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment ‘The Magnitude of Substance Abuse in India’, in terms of opioids, 4.91 percent of the population in J&K was currently abuser, more than twice the all-India percentage.

The figure as per the report is among the highest in India, barring Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, and Northeastern states.

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