The 4As strategy of J&K’s Draft Drug De-addiction Policy

These include increasing Awareness, restricting the Availability of drugs, and increasing Affordability and Accessibility to treatment programmes.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report revealed that 1222 cases under NDPS Act 1985 were registered in J&K in 2020, however, the number has increased to 1681 in 2021. [Representational Image]
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report revealed that 1222 cases under NDPS Act 1985 were registered in J&K in 2020, however, the number has increased to 1681 in 2021. [Representational Image]File: Mapixel [Creative Commons]

Srinagar: The J&K's Draft Drug De-addiction Policy has called for the '4As strategy' to eradicate the menace of drug abuse in Jammu and Kashmir.

The policy has been drafted by the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) Kashmir in collaboration with the Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar and the J&K State Aids Control Society.

The policy has been drafted at a time when the latest national report on drug abuse in J&K has set alarm bells ringing for the government as the figures indicate an increase of 35 percent in drug abuse cases in 2021 compared to the cases registered in 2020.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report revealed that 1222 cases under NDPS Act 1985 were registered in J&K in 2020, however, the number has increased to 1681 in 2021.

Earlier, in a report by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on the magnitude of substance abuse in the country, J&K was placed 5th and had more than six lakh people affected by drug abuse.

Meanwhile, the drug de-addiction policy drafted has suggested some key strategies while keeping the focus on 4As.

These include increasing Awareness, restricting the Availability of drugs, and increasing Affordability and Accessibility to treatment programmes.

As per the policy, the awareness programmes targeting entire communities and high-risk populations would focus on enhancing the protective factors and reducing the modifiable risk factors in the individuals and their environment.

“These will also include knowledge about the types of commonly abused substances, symptoms of intoxication and withdrawal, and consequences of substance use, both physical and mental,” the document reads.

The policy has suggested that de-stigmatisation of the treatment process through awareness programmes should be done and knowledge about the treatment be provided to the youth.

"Basic learning about substance use disorders can be included in the school curriculum and at a higher level in the curriculum of undergraduate medical students," the document reads.

The policy has advocated for holding classroom programmes in schools by teachers or peer leaders focusing on life and social skills, self-control, emotional awareness, communication, drug resistance, and skills.

"Religious beliefs are important protective factors. Spiritual leaders should be involved and public education campaigns on radio, TV, social media, and billboards should be organised as well," the document reads.

The policy has suggested that the availability of drugs should be restricted which can be achieved by enforcing the already existing laws vigorously and checking their compliance at regular intervals.

“Stringent laws are needed against the rampant misuse of prescription medications and reckless sale of medication with psychoactive properties at medical shops,” the document reads, adding that the laws were needed to restrict the sale of solvent-containing compounds, especially to minors.

“There should be special directions to the teachers and the parents to supervise the use of solvent-containing products by children and adolescents. The draft policy has also suggested more restrictions on the sale and public use of legal drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, especially on its underage sale. Heavy restriction and law measures are needed on the increasing production and trade of prohibited drugs across the states,” the document reads. “This becomes essential in the current scenario of the increasing influx of labour class population into the state, as well as the efflux of youth to the outside of the state in search of employment and educational opportunities.”

The policy has suggested that non-compliance with policy should be dealt with strict punishment.

It has advocated increasing affordability and accessibility to treatment programmes by suggesting that insurance benefits and medical leave should cover de-addiction treatment just as any other general medical condition.

“Primary care physicians can provide treatment to local patients in uncomplicated drug intoxication or withdrawal conditions and hence should be trained for the same,” the policy reads.

The de-addiction policy has called for the promotion of activities that protect against substance abuse.

The policy has suggested measures for increasing educational and employment opportunities for children and youth.

“Improved, affordable, and accessible healthcare, both physical and mental, should be provided. Rehabilitation of existing slum establishments and prevention of mushrooming of slums as the poor condition of living in these areas breeds addiction and related problems,” the policy document reads.

The policy has suggested increasing opportunities for sports and the scope for leisure activities including health parks, amusement parks, zoos, and museums.

“Incentives that reinforce healthy behaviours like bravery awards, awards for social work, awards to upcoming sportspersons, and young entrepreneurs should be introduced,” it reads.

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