The drug abuse among children under 16 years of age has set alarm bells ringing in the Valley.The psychiatric disorders are increasing in the territory due to the unending conflict. The Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) has treated at least 70,000 people with mental health illnesses this year.Official data reveals that of the 70,000 patients, 2,692 drug addicts were treated till August while 387 drug addicts were admitted to the institute and its centre at the SMHS Hospital in Srinagar.Dr Hena Hajini, Child Psychologist at the psychiatry unit of the SMHS Hospital, said three of every 10 people visiting the centre were below 16. I am receiving around 30 mental ailment cases of children in which under the age of 16 children fall into conduct disorder – an early stage of substance abuse, she said.
According to the doctors in the hospital, they receive 12 drug abuse cases daily.A Dr Arshid Hussain, consultant psychiatrist, in Psychiatric Disease Hospital Srinagar says, There have been over 4,000 people in our OPD (out patient department) who are drug addicts. According to those monitoring the trend, a large number of teenage girls and women have also turned to substance abuse.Towards this, it’s important to highlight the United Nations International Drug Control Programme Survey in 2008, which found that out of 70,000 drug addicts in Kashmir, 4,000 were females.Many studies done in the state have reported that tobacco, cannabis(charas), alcohol, benzodiazepines (sleeping pills, like alprax, valium), opiates(like codeine, heroin, morphine), brown sugar, Inhalants (like Fevicol SR , glue, paint thinner, petrol, shoe polish etc) are the major drugs of abuse.
It is clear that drug addiction is on a rise in J&K, which if not tackled timely can have serious ramifications. However, who is responsible for it? Government or locals ? There is no denying that it is not just drug addiction Kashmiri’s cultivate it as well. Along with drug supplies from PoK, Punjab which the security forces are fighting, home grown Poppy cultivation is on a rise and poppy destruction drives are almost non existent. Why because locals protest these drives, as it is a source for easy money. According to the figures of State Excise Department, just 40 kanals (2 hectares) of land cultivating poppy was destroyed in 2017 as compared to 2,733 kanals (138 hectare) of land that was destroyed in the year 2016. The blame game continues with locals alleging a nexus and police blaming the locals, but who is suffering ? The Kashmiri youth and now young children and women. Sensing the need and importance of curbing the menace J&K Police took an initiative in 2008 and a Drug De-addiction Centre was established in the premises of Police Control Room Srinagar which has now grown to about thirty professionals and 10 beds providing services at Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla. The services offered at police drug de addiction centre include, Registration, Motivational assessment and motivational enhancement, detoxification/ Medical review, psychiatric review, individual and group counselling, family counselling, yoga therapies, religious orientation classes, recreational activities and occupational rehabilitation programmes etc.The initiative is appreciable but in order to curb the growing menace every Kashmiri should take the responsibility and join hands with each other and security forces against this grave problem else Kashmir would soon become Udta Kashmir like the state of Punjab where a entire generation of youth is wiped out because of drug abuse.