Drug abusers’ population is fast increasing in Kashmir and they have been occupying media headlines frequently. It is unfortunate that Kashmir has witnessed a whopping 1500 percent increase in drug abuse cases in the last three years. The major contributors to the business of ‘pleasurable’ drugs have been mostly youngsters, including teenagers who are fast becoming habitual of taking highly volatile and most expensive drugs like Heroin.
A government report says there are at least 6 lakh people in the 17 - 33 age group affected by drug related issues in Kashmir. Health Officials have been shocked to witness this surge in drug abuse with female drug addicts coming to hospital for treatment in alarming numbers. According to a report published by United Nation, Drug Control Programme (UNDCP) around 70 thousand people are drug addicts alone in Kashmir division among whom approximately 31 percent are women.
Day in and day out we come across reports about the arrest of drug peddlers, but ground reports indicate that there is no let-up in the menace. If the official records about the increasing number of drug addicts at hospitals are given a serious thought, then there is no denying the fact that a generation in Kashmir is about to get swallowed by the deadly ‘pleasurable’ drugs. The biggest issue is that the percentage of youngsters getting involved in substance use is highly alarming. This uncontrolled alarming surge in drug abusers far and wide is a huge challenge to the government efforts existing on the ground to stop the menace from invading youngsters. The growing menace is pushing the young generation closer to the death trap.
Astonishingly, in a highly militarized environment, the procurement and supply of the banned substances conveniently is itself a big question. However, the role of J&K Police to some extent is appreciable as they have been successful in tightening the noose around the drug peddlers, especially in Kupwara and Anantnag districts.
To avert this mounting catastrophe, society has a big role to play to stop the young generation from being lured to drug addiction and pushed into a death trap.
Psychiatrists treating the drug addicts are listing prevailing circumstances in Kashmir as one of the main reasons forcing the young to take drugs to beat the stress. It is worth to quote a psychiatrist while speaking to a local news agency saying: “There is no recreational alternative available for the children in Kashmir as drug addiction isn’t a choice but in absence of any sports and recreational alternative, children are becoming addicts as we are witnessing mostly 15-30 year age group involved in it.”
In the backdrop of the alarming situation and the experts' advice, large scale programs in the field of sports and cultural activities are needed to keep the youngsters in a delightful mood even in the most depressive conditions. It is worth mentioning that apart from government efforts, parents have a huge role to play when it comes to curbing the fast growing drug menace.
The parents’ supervision of their children in no way cannot be overlooked. Actually, they only can nip the evil in the bud. Their lack of supervision of the children and breeding communication barriers in parent-children relationship leads to parental discord. It is this discord which sows the seeds of depression among the children and makes them vulnerable to drugs like heroin. A single stroke of drug is enough to make such children drug addicts.
In the said situation, parents need to be watchful about the behavior of their children. It is the time to make best use of medical technology. A UDS (Urinary Drug Screening) kit is a handy medical tool which families can have at home. They can use this kit in the event of any doubt to check their children for ‘pleasurable’ drugs. They should use the kit not to insult them but with a sole purpose of making their life safe and future bright. Pertinently, the alarming level of drug menace makes it now compulsory to have a UDS kit handy at home. Even the facility should be made available in schools and colleges. In fact, the government should make (UDS) Urinary Drug Screening compulsory in schools at periodic intervals.
However, other means and ways to keep the youngsters away from drugs should also be utilized. Both parents and the society on the whole need to have counseling sessions to prevent their children from consuming drugs and educate them about the deadly health issues these drugs bring to the addict.
The counseling programmes and workshops organized by the J&K police and some non-governmental organizations (NGO) should get the right audience for such events. They should get suspects and those prone to drug abuse in awareness programs. Otherwise, conducting such awareness programs for delivering lectures and running powerpoint presentations to an irrelevant audience is meaningless. Let the organizers stop using such platforms for distributing certificates and trophies among themselves and take the challenge of fighting drug menace head-on. They need to knock on the right doors.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed
in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.