Alarming levels of drug abuse

About 350,000 persons die from overdoses (alcohol and illicit drug use disorders) each year worldwide. And around 2.6 crore people in India have used or use opioids and approximately 1.18 crore people use sedatives and inhalants. Over 8.5 lakh people inject drugs into themselves and are addicted and about 14.6% of the total population of India (i.e. 16 crore people) are users of alcohol.

These are the facts and figures which have been reported and stand reproduced here to measure the intensity of the menace..

In Kashmir, the drug addiction has been on the rise for last few years and almost 2.5 lakh youth form part of addicted or affected population in the Valley. With few drug de-addiction centres in the Valley, Kashmiris have been left to God’s mercy in both cases, to curb the menace and to get proper medical facilities involved in this social and health evil.

A recent data of the Srinagar Police Control Room’s (PCR) de-addiction centre reveals that of the entire lot, most drug abusers fall in the age group of 18-35 years. While the numbers affected is very high, the patient flow at the de-addiction centre is alarmingly too. In the year 2019, 633 were registered at the PCR, which has gone up to 1,978. While 81% were male, there were over 19% females suggesting that the number of female drug abusers too is on the rise in the otherwise conservative society. Started in 2008, the PCR’s de-addiction centre has treated 10,000 above abusers till date.

Pertinently, the seizures have increased and the number of cases being registered under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, for peddling and smuggling of banned substances are rising. Recent seizure cases and booking the dealers under Public Safety Act (PSA) especially in Awantipora area is testimony to the fact that police has taken a stand to curb the menace.

The use of psychoactive substances causes significant health and social problems for the people who use them, and also for others in their families and communities. Using of psychotropic drugs is a self-destructive pattern that causes distress and problems, and some use for the purpose of creating pleasurable effects on the brain. Under the influence of various narcoitic and psychotropic drugs, people see images, hear sounds, and feel sensations that seem real but do not exist.

Now my point is that these all these drugs are available in Kashmir with negligible hassles. It has been observed that the valley has a tremendous rise in substance abusers over the past decade. A report reveals that  in 2016 the heroine abuse were 15%, now it has gone up to 90%.

In late nineties, Medicinal opiates such as Morphine and Codeine or Benzodiazepine were first used as recreational drug. Later, Cannabis was more widely used and considered socially acceptable. But over the past few years, heroine and cocaine have been the most abused substances and they have great health risks and financial risks.

There are many reasons for drug problem in the valley, which includes living in conflict zone, lack of awareness, easy availability, peer pressure. And if you have money it is easily available. 1 Gram of heroine cost around (Rs 3000-4000). This data released by Jammu and Kashmir police reveal that 1132 drug-related cases were registered in 2020. Around 1672 persons involved in drug smuggling. 152.18 kgs of heroine were seized in 2020. Around 339603 capsules, 57925 intoxicating bottles and 256 intoxication injection were seized. Also 563.61 kgs of charas and 22230.48 kgs opium/poppy/cannabis derivation were sized. The Handwara drug case, 21 kg of heroine and cash worth Rs 1,35,89,850 was recovered from members of the drug syndicate. The heroine was worth of Rs 100 crore. There are many more cases like Handwara drug case in Kashmir valley. If reports are believed then in Srinagar and Anantnag districts of Kashmir alone, drugs worth Rs 3.7 crores are being sold every day. The number of drug addicts in the twin districts has increased to 17,000 according to a recent study conducted by the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS).

According to a survey conducted by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) in February 2019, 600,000 people, i.e. 4.6 percent of the total population of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir use opioid drugs, 80 percent of the drug addicts in Kashmir use heroin and morphine. It is high time to save our generation from the drug abuse and If we will not take concrete steps now, then after some years, the young generation of Kashmir will be destroyed. Police taking action against drug abuse is not enough. We as a society have to act responsibly.

As per the data released by Jammu and Kashmir Police, around 1672 person involved in drug smuggling and peddling were arrested. Around 35 drug peddlers were booked under public safety Act (PSA). The question arises why only 35 drug peddlers were booked under (PSA). It would have served as a deterrent if rest of the 1637 arrested persons involved in drug peddling would have also been booked under PSA.

In short, let’s join hands to save the generation from getting abused. Let’s pledge, No to Drugs! Sooner the better.

(The author is studying in Kashmir Government Polytechnic)