Azhar Ud Din
Drug addiction is considered as a neurobiological disease. When a person becomes a drug addict it is very hard for him to spend a day without taking the drug. Drugs that are the main cause of addiction are heroin, opium, morphine, inhalants, brown sugar, cocaine, diazepam, marijuana (ganja), hash oil, etc.
After petroleum and arms, the drug trade is the third largest business in the world. It is estimated in a report of the United Nations (2017) that about 25.5 million people in the world are suffering from drug use disorders. Kashmir is also moving rapidly towards this vice. It is estimated from a survey conducted by the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP) that there are approximately 70,000 people in Kashmir who are drug addicts, among whom 4,000 are females. It is important to mention here that the rate of drug addiction in Kashmir is continuously increasing among students, both males and females. The director of the Drug De-addiction center Srinagar, Dr. Muzaffar Khan, has said that “the trend of drug abuse is on the rise among school children as we have registered many such cases, where students of Class IX to XII are involved.”
Thus, the main pillars of the future of Kashmir are being destroyed by drug addiction. Youth play a vital role in the development of a society and they are the economically most productive and biologically most reproductive part of society. A report of the Government Psychiatric Hospital of Kashmir revealed that most of the drug addicts in the valley are youths. The rate of increase of drug addiction is so high in the valley that experts and academicians are warning that after one generation lost to bullets, another may be lost to drugs.
Naqshbandi in his paper “Drug addiction and youth of Kashmir” interviewed 270 young Kashmiri people in the age group of 16-30 years in different districts. His findings revealed that conflict and unemployment were the main reasons for drug addiction among the youth. As we know Kashmir is one of the most militarised conflict zones of the world. The turmoil of the past many years has caused depression and psychological problems among a vast number of people here and due to this depression, many people have found drugs to be the only solution to get rid of stress.
Another important reason for drug addiction in Kashmir is unemployment. As we know that competition in terms of employment is increasing because of growing population and lack of resources. In other countries the private sector offers adequate opportunities to the youth but in Jammu and Kashmir government jobs are the only option. However, it is impossible to absorb all the youth in the government sector.
Bad company or peer pressure is also considered as one of the reasons for drug addiction. The study by Mushtaq et al, ‘Changing socio-demographic and clinical profile of substance use disorder patients in Kashmir Valley 2004’, revealed that about 78 percent of drug addicts have turned to drugs due to peer pressure and bad company. Many studies have suggested that drug addiction begins with smoking, which is considered as a fashion among the youth.
It is the need of an hour that the pace of this drug abdication should be reduced. In order to curb this problem the first and foremost step which the government of Jammu and Kashmir has to take is strict action against drug peddlers, opioid cultivators, and chemist shops that sell psychotropic medicines. Another important responsibility is of parents and teachers. Instead of scolding their wards who have become addicted to drugs, they have to deal with them with love and patience. They should try to increase the morale and confidence of drug addicts that they can shun this vice. Parents should also consult professional interventionists to help find the real cause of stress and ways to manage it.
NGOs, government, schools and colleges should regularly organise programmes and seminars to make aware students and the general masses about the repercussions of drug addiction. Job opportunities should also be increased so that unemployment does not become a cause for depression and stress. It is essential to eradicate the roots of drug addiction, so that the future of Kashmir can be saved.
The writer is a student of Geography at AMU.