Jammu and Kashmir is in the grip of an epidemic and the biggest victims of this epidemic are the youth. Expressing concern over drug usage, experts said that the eradication of drug addiction needs a multi-pronged approach.
Globally, about 35 million people suffer from drug use disorders and who require treatment services, according to the latest World Drug Report, released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Expressing grave concern over the rising drug abuse in the valley noted Epidemiologist Dr Naresh Purohit said that rampant use of drugs by the youth is one of the most tragic of the humanitarian fallouts of the lingering political conflict and violence. The daily play of death and despair has created a sense of dead- end for a generation born into conflict, he added.
Dr Naresh Purohit is Visiting Professor – Psychology, at the Srinagar based – School of Education and Behavioural Science, University of Kashmir. He was addressing a workshop on mental health awareness and substance abuse organised by the Kashmir American Society for Healthcare and Medical Education Research (KASHMER) at the Srinagar based Government College of Education.
He noted that drug use has become an easy escape from the fluctuating situations of life. Most of the addicts, the data reveals, come from the downtown Srinagar and the major towns of Baramulla, Sopore, Anantnag, and Kupwara, which have been the hubs of the conflict and have witnessed most of the violence. The addiction has caught on among women too.
Dr Purohit also Advisor – National Mental Health Programme averred that according to a recent study, Kashmir has around 70,000 substance users, and 52,000 people are using IV heroin, among whom 34 percent drug abusers are unmarried.
“Addiction is a neuropsychological disorder characterised by a persistent and intense urge to engage in certain behaviours, one of which is the usage of a drug, despite substantial harm and other negative consequences,” he explained
“Drug addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a disease that affects a person’s brain and behaviour and leads to an inability to control the use of a legal or illegal drug or medicine. Substances such as alcohol, marijuana and nicotine also are considered drugs, “he added.
“Drug addiction can start with experimental use of a recreational drug in social situations, and, for some people, the drug use becomes more frequent. For others, particularly with opioids, drug addiction begins when they take prescribed medicines or receive them from others who have prescriptions,” he pointed out.
He informed that the most widely used drug globally continues to be cannabis, with an estimated 188 million people having used the drug in 2017.
Over the last few years, there has been an extraordinary increase in anti-social crimes in the valley. One of the main reasons for these crimes is the increasing use of drugs among the youth.
He said that diagnosing drug addiction (substance use disorder) requires a thorough evaluation and often includes an assessment by a psychiatrist, a psychologist, or a licensed alcohol and drug counsellor. Although there is no cure for drug addiction, treatment options can help you overcome an addiction and stay drug free.
MULTI PRONGED APPROACH
Experts in the workshop said that the eradication of drug addiction needs a multi-pronged approach. There is an urgent need for legal, social and religious measures to prevent drug addiction. Although the state government has taken strict measures to eradicate the scourge of drugs, several serious measures are needed to eradicate this epidemic. The laws that are in force for the prevention of drug abuse should be implemented in a better way and these laws should be enforced and made stricter. Cultivation, sale and misuse of cannabis and opium should be completely banned. It is necessary to have cooperation between the administration and the people. Only then can our society get rid of this evil.
They emphasised that there is an urgent need for measures not only by the government but also by the society to end this scourge. Civil society groups need to be mobilised to stop drug trafficking at the local level. Parents should monitor the activities of their children and protect them from getting addicted to drugs and falling into the clutches of drug addicts.
“Although there has been a lot of awareness among people about the harmful effects of drugs, this awareness needs to be spread to those areas and people who are unaware of it,” they added.
Experts urged that the rehabilitation centres should take proper care of the psychological and emotional needs of the victims, so that the victims can fully recover and move towards a prosperous future. These rehabilitation measures include preventive education and awareness building, capacity building, skill development, vocational training and livelihood support for ex-drug addicts, among other relevant measures to stop this epidemic before it is too late