Srinagar: A staggering 3 percent of the adult population in Kashmir is taking contraband substances.
The figures get worse if the female population is discounted from the numbers.
Over the years, the highly addictive and devastating opium and its derivatives have replaced all other drugs of abuse to take over 90 percent share.
Changing pattern of opioid Users attending an Opioid Agonist Treatment Clinic in North India carried out by a team of Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS), Kashmir, has defined and detailed the contours of substance abuse in various districts of Kashmir.
The study has estimated substance abuse prevalence in Kashmir to be 2.87.
In other words, nearly 3 of every 100 adults in Kashmir are dependent on a contraband substance, usually opium and its derivatives.
Cumulative figure of all districts is that 2.23 percent of adults are abusing opioids, usually heroin.
Prof Yasir Hussain Rather, who is one of the authors of this study, said that over 52,000 people in Kashmir are abusing heroin as per their data analysis.
“There are over 32,000 injectable drug users in Kashmir,” he said.
Providing further details about the study findings, Prof Rather said that heroin had replaced all other drugs in the arena and was the predominant drug of abuse.
“We found that in Baramulla district, 100 percent of substance addicts abused opioids, while in Pulwama and Srinagar districts, this figure was 97 and 94 percent,” he said.
Prof Rather said that alcohol consumption was negligible in Kashmir due to the religious and social notions.
Shopian, Ganderbal, and Bandipora have around 5 percent share in substance abuse figures.
Dr Fazle Roub, a psychiatrist specialising in addiction psychiatry and an author of the study, said that the geographical location of Kashmir makes it ideal for the transport of opioids from neighbouring states like Punjab, as well as the neighbouring countries.
He said usual routes for use of opioids, like chasing and oral, have been replaced with intravenous routes which carries with it risks of infections like HIV and Hepatitis B and C.
Dr Roub said that the mean age of starting heroin abuse was around 22 years and a majority of people who abused drugs were unemployed youth.
“Nearly one out of every four people abusing drugs is unemployed, which must set alarm bells ringing given its implications,” he said.