Drug abusers in Kashmir consume cannabis—due to its easy availability, accessibility and affordability due to its huge local production, a recent government report has said.
As per the study report—titled ‘An Empirical Analysis of Drug Addiction in Kashmir Valley’ conducted by State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), it studied 100 drug abusers at twin drug de-addiction centres in Srinagar.
“Majority of drug abusers use cannabis drug—about 26%. The maximum use of this type of drug can be attributed to its easily availability, accessibility and affordability due to its huge local production,” reads the study.
It notes that further alcohol was the second most abused (about 19 percent) followed by prescription drugs (17 percent).
Of the total respondents, 98.5 percent were males, rest females. 32 percent of them were between 15-20 years, 30 percent between 20-25 years, 23 percent were between 25-30 years, while 14 percent were 30 and above.
The study notes that some abusers start consuming drugs earlier especially during the stage of education, others start at a later stage.
“Again some start this before marriage while others do it after the marriage. Though the implications of drug consumption are all negative for all groups and communities of consumers,” it notes.
It said that the disastrous consequences of drug consumption proves in the latter stage of life especially when the individual has develops family which is dependent on him economically, emotionally and socially.
“A particular group of peddlers introduce people towards the drug but one’s own friends and at times strangers in the neighborhood were also involved in introducing the drug,” reads the study.
“At the time of introduction, person is not conveyed about the disastrous consequences of the drug abuse. It has been observed that this evil practice mostly happens at the time of over joy and depression.”
The study has revealed that the role of peddlers and smugglers to enhance users for their economic interests “is growing at large scale.”
“Majority of the respondents about 44 percent started using drugs during the age group of 16-20 years which is considered comparatively a younger age group,” it states.
“Most of the members of the group are either studying in educational institutions in towns and cities or have left shortly these institutions where they started these drug activities.”
The second largest age group having the strength of 19 percent of the respondents belongs to 21 to 25 years of age. They start consuming drugs just after they leave educational institutions.
This group, the study said is the most suffering group among all drug consumers as it affects their entire families and other social situations.
The third age group of the respondents belongs to the age group of 15 years below whose number is 23 percent of the total.
“These drug users are school going. It has been observed that different organizing agencies provide drugs to these boys and girls in schools and other places,” reads the report.
As per the research, respondents were asked to say who introduced them to drugs. 57 percent of them stated they were introduced by their friends
“This response was put forth by the majority of teenagers and the main reason was found peer pressure and curiosity. 29 percent admitted that they were motivated by colleagues,” it said.
This category is of those who remain engaged during nights out of their families.
“Further 23 percent responded that they came to know drugs have role in minimizing anxiety, tensions. 21 percent respondents claimed that they were introduced to drugs by drug dealers (chemists, pharmacists, drug sellers.”
The first-ever drug de-addiction policy sanctioned by the health department in January has revealed gaps hindering State government to fight drug abuse.
Though doctors have said the drug over-dose was becoming a common emergency in the state hospitals but the gaps continue despite a steep rise in substance abuse cases over the years.
Doctors argue that drug abusers need to be treated as patients saying people should change the perception about them to help end menace in society.
“We need to change the perception about drug addicts. We need to consider them like any other patient,” said Dr Yasir Hassan Rather, associate professor, department of psychiatry, GMC, Srinagar.
As per the figures mentioned in the SHRC report, in the past five years 11583 addicts turned up for treatment in the outpatient department at SMHS hospital, while 1417 had been admitted in these years.