Srinagar, Nov 4: Drug abuse among youngsters has increased manifold with medicos blaming easy access to illicit drugs in Kashmir.
As per the official figures, the Drug De-addiction Center at SMHS Hospital receives at least 150 drug addiction cases every day.
Of 150 cases, 70 cases are follow-up cases and the remaining cases are new. There are also 15 drug addiction cases among teenagers.
According to the officials, 95 percent of cases are heroin abusers.
According to the doctors, after doing serological tests of these patients, of the 100, 70 cases are found to have Hepatitis C disease.
So far, four HIV cases have also been reported at the hospital.
As per the 10-district addiction survey, Kashmir has around 70,000 substance users, and 52,000 people are using IV Heroin.
As per the doctors, there is a shift from medicinal Opioids (Codeine, SP, Tramadol, and Tapentadol) to hard-core drugs mostly IV heroin.
Doctors said that the surge in drug abuse cases is alarming and there should be some serious steps to curb this menace besides focusing on youngsters’ mental health in Kashmir.
They said that the prevalence of Hepatitis C was already in Kashmir and that was why it was spreading quickly among the heroin drug abusers.
“Unlike other states, HIV cases are very less here. But if these cases surge, they will spread like a very dangerous fire. We need to stop drug abuse, especially heroin abuse,” they said.
Dr Yasir Hassan Rather, who heads the Drug De-addiction Center at SMHS Hospital, told Greater Kashmir that earlier people used to come from specific areas and districts but now these patients were coming from every nook and corner of Kashmir.
“We have patients from well-off families as well. Uneducated, educated, and even professionals are involved in drug abuse. It is an alarming situation right now,” he said.
Dr Rather said that Opioid addiction was a chronic addiction and heroin addiction was a disease.
“If we treat 150 patients, 80 cases relapse. Opioid addiction changes the morphology or neurochemistry of the brain and it is a long-term change. It takes years to heal,” he said.
Dr Yasir said they have found conduct disorders like behavioural and emotional disorders among these drug addiction cases in Kashmir.
Dr Muhammad Maqbool Dar, Head of the Psychiatry Department, said that the drug abuse menace in Kashmir had crossed all the barriers and now cases are found everywhere.
“The dependence on drugs has increased. We even receive cases of people who are married. Even minor boys are getting addicted to drugs and substances, and it's a serious public health issue," he said.
The doctors said that it was high time to take certain measures against drug abuse.
“There should be some measures like supply reduction (to stop the drugs supply, production, and trafficking), harm reduction (to raise awareness among youth regarding the negative effects of drugs, awareness camps to minimise the drug demand), and demand reduction (to increase the treatment facilities for the patients) which need to be put in place to save the lives of people in Kashmir,” they said.