Kashmir witnesses rise in drug abuse

With hardly any mental healthcare facilities or civil de-addiction centres in the Valley, Kashmiris have been left to fend for themselves in their attempt to deal with the emotional disorders. Born and brought up in turmoil and violence, Kashmir’s generation next is now falling prey to drugs. A fresh data of the Srinagar police control room’s de-addiction centre paints a grim picture. Most drug abusers fall in the age group of 18-35 years and the patient flow at the police de-addiction centre is alarming as well. Last year, 633 cases were registered at the PCR, which has gone up to 1,978. While eighty one percent of those who visited PCR for drug de-addiction were male, alarming nineteen percent were females. The number of female drug abusers is on rise in the otherwise conservative society. Started in 2008, the PCR’s de-addiction centre has treated more than seven thousand abusers until now, which by local standards, is alarming.

It seems that youth of Kashmir are taking refuge in drugs as they confront problems in their daily life. Conflict, high unemployment rate, relationship, peer pressures, family disputes, love breakups and death of loved ones and split families are main reasons behind addiction. Several studies carried out on drug addiction in the Valley reveal a strong correlation between conflict and drug abuse. The studies show that in Kashmir, drugs are not used for recreational purposes but as a coping mechanism to deal with the stresses.
 The PCR’s stress management cell received more than 567 calls from February 2011 to September 2013. Suicidal tendencies were evident among these addicts. Exam-related stress queries also topped among the callers. The PCR is grappling to address the increasing rush of patients. Commonly abused drugs are Benzodiazepine, sleeping pills, cough syrups and Alprax. Besides opium, fluid, brown sugar and alcohol addiction is also common among the youth, More than eighty five percent patients recovered through ‘social intervention plan’.  The social intervention plan comprised individual sessions, family sessions, identification of stressor in the family, antagonist consent, work rehabilitation, relapse prevention education and pre-discharge counselling. Some institutions in the Valley are planning to initiate a vocational course for rehabilitating these drug addicts. This way many will earn their livelihood and earn the deserted respect back. Society must come forward and help these drug addicts to recover. There is need to accept rehabilitated persons as normal citizens.