High time for us a society to take responsibility
The International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking is observed on 26 June. Substance abuse and the illicit trafficking of drugs is an evil in our society, a poison to the well-being of youth in particular. The significance of this day has never been greater, with drug use around the world on the rise and millions of people suffering from drug use disorders. The World Drug Report 2020 released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has highlighted a trend of rising drug use globally. The report revealed that around 269 million people used drugs worldwide in 2018 – 30 percent higher than in 2009, while over 35 million people worldwide suffer from drug use disorders.
A recent study conducted by Srinagar-based Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (IMHANS) in a Drug De-Addiction Centre in Srinagar, found that over two-third of patients studies had started substance abuse in the age group of 11-20 years. The most common substances of abuse identified included nicotine (94.4%), medicinal opioids (65.7%), cannabis (63.6%), benzodiazepines (45.5%), other prescription medications (43.4%), alcohol (32.5%), inhalants (11.1%), and cocaine (7.5%). The study revealed that poly-substance abuse was found in 91.9% of the studied patients. Inhalant use was seen predominantly among adolescents (54.5%) whereas nicotine (50.2%), cannabis (49.2%), alcohol (51.1%), opioids (58.4%), and benzodiazepines (53.48%) were more predominant in the age group of 21 to 30 years.
According to a survey conducted by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MoSJE) in February 2019, 600,000 people, i.e. 4.6 percent of the total population of Jammu and Kashmir, use opioid drugs, and 80 percent of the drug addicts in Kashmir use heroin and morphine.
The problem of drug abuse not only affects the physical, mental and social health of the individuals but it disturbs and burdens the whole family. It also ruins the family’s happiness and creates economic and social disorganisation.
In Kashmir, political turmoil, armed conflict, militancy, violence, terrorism, psychological distress, unfavorable environmental conditions and socio-economic problems like poor industrial and infrastructural development, massive unemployment, corruption, poverty, underdevelopment, etc, have caused a rising number of drug addicts. The use of tobacco, charas, ganja, cocaine, heroin, opiates, alcohol and inhalant substances has been growing rapidly among adolescents in Kashmir. The use of these illicit drugs mentally and physically damages the individual and his or her family relations, potential, dreams, and degrades social and moral values.
Measures to prevent and reduce drug abuse are critical, because drug use, at its core, is a health issue. Unless we reduce demand for illicit drugs, we can never fully tackle cultivation, production or trafficking. Governments have a responsibility to counteract both drug trafficking and drug abuse, but communities can also make a major contribution. Families, schools, civil society and religious organisations can do their part to rid their communities of drugs. Businesses can help provide legitimate livelihoods. The media can raise awareness about the dangers of narcotics. We can succeed if we reinforce our commitment to the basic principles of health and human rights, shared responsibility, and universal access to prevention, treatment and support. This will foster communities that are free of drug-related crime and violence, individuals free of drug dependence who can contribute to our common future, and a safer world for all.
It is high time to save our generation from drug abuse. If we will not take concrete steps now, then after some years, the young generation of Kashmir will be destroyed. Police taking action against drug abuse is not enough. We as a society have to act responsibly.
The writer is Principal (I/C), Abhedananda Home: Higher Secondary Institution for Specially-abled Children, Solina, Rambagh, Srinagar. [email protected]