Coping With Dope

With hardly any mental healthcare facilities or de-addiction centres in the Valley, Kashmiris have been left to fend for themselves in their attempt to deal with emotional disorders. Born and brought up amid turmoil and violence, Kashmir’s generation next is now falling prey to drugs.  Fresh data at the Srinagar Police Control Room’s (PCR) de-addiction centre paints a grim picture. Most drug abusers fall in the age group of 18-35 years, with a flow of patients that has been described as alarming.. Last year, 633 (patients) were registered at the PCR, and the number has gone up to 1,978, out of whom 81 per cent were male, and 19 percent female – a more than marked rise in the latter case given the “conservative” nature of Kashmir society.

Started in 2008, the de-addiction centre has treated 6,693 abusers till date. Conflict, high unemployment rate, relationship, peer pressures, family disputes, love breakups and death of loved ones and split families have been identified as the main reasons behind addiction. The PCR’s stress management cell had received more than 567 calls from February 2011 to September 2013, with experts finding suicidal tendencies and exam-related stress evident in the queries of most callers, and several studies carried out on addiction in the Valley reveal a strong correlation between conflict and drug abuse. The studies show that in Kashmir, drugs are not used for recreation but to deal with stress.

More than 85 per cent patients have recovered through the PCR’s ‘social intervention plan’ that comprised of individual sessions, family sessions, identification of stressor in the family, antagonist consent, work rehabilitation, relapse prevention education and pre-discharge counseling. The Kashmir University’s directorate of lifelong learning is planning to initiate a one-month vocational course for rehabilitating victims of drug addiction and help them earn their livelihoods and live has healthy, productive citizens. Society must come forward and help in this process of recovery by accepting victims of drug addiction as normal people.