Kashmir's maiden drug de-addiction policy makes it to Royal College of Psychiatry

The newly instituted drug de-addiction policy of Kashmir has been selected for poster presentation at the prestigious Royal College of Psychiatry (RCP) London congress in this July. 

In January this year, State administrative council (SAC) approved the first drug de-addiction policy of J&K. Devised by the Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience’s, Government Medical College, Srinagar, Dr Syed Bushra, a resident at the Institute, proposed the policy for poster presentation to the jury of RCP congress. The poster has been accepted for presentation between July 1 and 4, an official from the department said.

The poster is titled ‘formulation of drug de-addiction policy for a resource limited, conflict affected state and proposing the concept of demand reduction, integration and community participation’.

The poster proposal underlined the “steep rise is burden of substance use disorders during the past two decades in Kashmir”. “Most of the drug policies are based on western model focusing on prohibition and harm-reduction which becomes difficult to apply in Kashmir – a region culturally, politically, economically and geographically in contrast to the west,” notes the presenter. Therefore, the policy, according to her is based on the principles of “prevention, integration and community participation”.

The policy allows sharing of resources with easy access to medical services to effectively deal with drug-related emergencies. “In addition,” the policy states, “the model decreases stigma and ostracization that comes with isolating treatment centers”.

“The implementation of the policy is underway,” said commissioner secretary health and medical education, Atal Dulloo . He said that Government recently drafted and notified guidelines for de-addiction centers. “We have sought action plan from all the 14 departments involved in the implementation of the policy and these are almost ready,” he said adding that a meeting with all stakeholders was in offing next week to give a final shape to implementation strategy.

Speaking about the problem of substance abuse, Dr Bushra said, “Kashmir was kind of immune to drugs for centuries, despite being in the midst of the notorious golden crescent.” She said that the unique characteristics of the “epidemic of drugs” here required an out-of-box approach and the policy does justice to that requirement. “The presentation at London would give us a chance to take the model to a larger audience and possible help replicating it at other places with similar resource constraints,” she said.