Drug-abuse is defined by habitual taking of illicit drugs, which is followed by addiction. The latter is a stage when the person becomes dependent on at least one illicit drug, both physically and psychologically. This scourge presents a serious public health problem, and it is associated with disproportionate costs to society in terms of the spread of diseases, criminal activity, deaths on and off the roads, and disruption of families and communities.
Alarmingly, at the global level, drug abuse and dependence is constantly increasing and is posing a serious challenge. Alas, the state of Jammu and Kashmir, being no exception presents a mendacious scenario where according to surveys, more than 70,000 people are said to be addicts. The revelation that the females also abuse substances has added to the gravity of this problem.
According to studies, the etiology of drug addiction is related to genetics, self-medication, interpersonal factors, and glamorization of drug use by media and so on. However, before we deliberate on these etiological factors, why do not we go to the nub of the problem? That is the supply and availability of illicit drugs. It does not need elucidation that ‘easy access’ to the illicit drugs is a major contributive factor of and to drug addiction. If there would be no access to illicit drugs, even in presence of etiological factors, how a person would be exposed to them. Illicit drugs are available through two ways:
1) Cultivation of illicit drug crops 2) Illicit distribution and trafficking.
Recent reports from the Narcotics Control Bureau divulged that J&K is one among the top states in India where maximum drug illicit crops are cultivated. In Kashmir, poppy and cannabis are being cultivated on large scales that are source of two main illicit drugs used in the valley. These two crops have become a source of income and backbone of the economy for many but the impact it has on society in general and youth, in particular, is often understated.
In Kashmir, not only youth are consuming cannabis and opium; but pharmaceutical drugs are also the latest rage among drug users. Additionally, the use of heroin, codeine, morphine is also on the rise at an alarming pace that are availed by junkies through unlawful trafficking. Because of a huge margin involved in the cultivation of these crops and trafficking of these substances, their illegal cultivation and trade has prospered since the past few years throughout Kashmir.
Although police often claim to have taken action, yet the results are not encouraging. Neither the cultivation of such crops nor smuggling of other illicit drugs has been stanched. Undoubtedly, it is most challenging to block cultivation and smuggling but, at the same time, it is the primary way to exterminate the problem of drug abuse. The Government must wake up to this grievous issue and take necessary steps to curb this menace.
To all intents and purposes, drug addiction as a social problem is not the concern of the administration only. It is the responsibility of all and sundry to play a role. Parental role is of extreme significance. Parents involved in fosterage of child have a supervisory role also. Besides providing comfort, they need to supervise the activities of their children, guide them properly, and inculcate moral values in them. They need to be interested in affairs of their wards, their company, friend circle and so on. Plus, by keeping track of their wards, parents can guard them against victimization.
Next is the role of society. Society can be instrumental in containing drug abuse. Citizens can fight this menace by being argus-eyed to the surroundings, especially about behavior and attitude of youngsters in the locality. Instead of ostracizing the drug addicts, people need to treat and counsel them gently. People in society must understand them and help them to say ‘no’ to drugs. Moreover, people need to establish recreational centers, libraries and other sites of public interest in respective communities that can check perversity in youth. Also, people need to cooperate with authorities for facilitating action against culprits involved in promoting drug-abuse and addiction.
NGOs, religious, and educational organizations need to come forward and engage more and more youth vigorously in social and religious work. This can create a sense of responsibility in youngsters and would subsequently prevent them from getting involved in the problem of drug addiction.
Though media outlets have somehow refrained from glamorization of drug use as was witnessed earlier through movies and other sources of entertainment, yet the part they are expected to play is lacking. Media is a powerful tool with maximal outreach and thus has a critical role in the creation of awareness about hazards of drug use. People associated with media have the opportunity to do yeoman’s service in this regard. They should not sleep over this matter instead; they need to contribute towards this cause actively.
Youth also need to realize their significance in the society. Before experimenting with drugs, they need to think about a sequel. Its effect on their life, career, and mainly on character, which furnishes everything especially, coveted esteem.
Nowadays, there is more awareness of problems of illicit drugs than ever before. How to translate awareness into constructive action is the major challenge. However, we can meet this challenge by our collective efforts. The situation also demands timely action and there is no option other than discharging duties collaboratively to fight out this menace that is taking a toll on our youth and is a threat to future of the nation.
—The author writes on current socio-political issues and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org