‘Jammu and Kashmir sitting on substance abuse volcano’

Tobacco consumption decreases but substance abuse increases drastically
Director of Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad told Greater Kashmir that to reduce the menace of tobacco usage among the youth, people need to avail counselling and cessation facilities as tobacco was the gateway to drugs.
Director of Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad told Greater Kashmir that to reduce the menace of tobacco usage among the youth, people need to avail counselling and cessation facilities as tobacco was the gateway to drugs.GK Layout Desk

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir Health Department Monday said that the consumption of tobacco and smoking had declined by 3 percent while substance abuse, especially Opioid use had significantly increased in J&K.

As per an addiction survey in 10 districts, 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, Tapentadol) to hardcore drugs mostly IV heroin.

“We are sitting on a volcano of Opioid addiction in J&K. The average cost of heroin per user per day is Rs 3000,” doctors said.

Director of Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Mushtaq Ahmad told Greater Kashmir that to reduce the menace of tobacco usage among the youth, people need to avail counselling and cessation facilities as tobacco was the gateway to drugs.

“Integration of tobacco control activities with other programmes like National Mental Health Programmes and Nasha Mukt Bharat Abhiyan is of utmost importance to benefit the masses at large,” he said.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, Director of Health Services, Jammu, Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman stressed on strict implementation of COTPA-2003 and WHO-FCTC Article 5.3 and Tobacco Vendor licensing.

He said that coordination of implementing agencies was the need of the hour for strengthening the National Tobacco Control Programme.

Program Coordinator of the Union of Tobacco and Lung Diseases, Dr Mohammad Naseer told Greater Kashmir that the percentage of tobacco consumption was less compared to other states.

He said that the government had underscored the importance of implementing a total ban on the use of tobacco and its allied products.

Dr Naseer said that the rate was less due to the efforts of the National Tobacco Control Programme launched by the Government of India.

“If we compare the data with other states, we are definitely improving,” he said.

Directorate of Health Services Kashmir (DHSK) spokesman Dr Mir Mushtaq told Greater Kashmir that the department had taken good steps to educate people about the hazards of tobacco chewing and smoking.

“In 2022, we will take steps to reach out to the people and make them aware of the hazardous effects on their health. The overall consumption of tobacco and cigarette smoking has declined. The department has launched an anti-tobacco and smoking campaign in all the districts of Kashmir division," he said.

Recently, DHSK directed all the Medical Superintendents and District Health Officers of the Kashmir division to conduct regular enforcement drives for the implementation of COTPA-2003.

Evidence indicates that tobacco dependence treatment does not interfere with the treatment of abuse from other substances.

The majority of research suggests combining tobacco dependence and substance abuse treatment was most effective and could increase long-term abstinence from alcohol and illicit drugs by 25 percent.

 One study suggests that patients undergoing treatment for alcohol abuse should complete treatment before seeking treatment for tobacco dependence.

During the years 2021 and 2022, six capacity-building programmes had been conducted by the State Tobacco Control Cell, Kashmir in which 286 persons had been sensitised regarding tobacco control.

According to the DHSK, there is a positive impact of the National Tobacco Control Programme in the J&K.

DHSK under National Tobacco Control Programme conducted a state-level workshop on emerging issues like drug de-addiction, tobacco vendor licensing, tobacco-free generations, and tobacco cessation at the Institute of Hotel Management, Rajbagh, Srinagar.

The workshop began with a welcome address by Deputy Director of Health Services, Kashmir, Dr Nishat Shaheen and focused on sensitisation of stakeholders regarding tobacco control and drug de-addiction.

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