In past, Kashmir was Greek to drug addiction and illicit trafficking
More than three decades before, Kashmir was Greek to drug addiction and illicit trafficking. This piece of land was popularly known as ‘Peer Vaer’ (an abode of Rishs and apostles). This menace was always in search of social approval in Kashmir. The drug addiction was considered as a big sin and a drug peddler was always looked with doubtful eyes. People were not showing any sympathy towards them.
But picture has changed all together. Now almost every habitation in Kashmir, big or small, has slowly slipped into drug cultivation, illicit trafficking and consumption. People feel proud in cultivating poppy and bung (charas).
Apart from men, the involvement of women and children in drug addiction and illicit trafficking is a major concern. There is urgency that the society must wake up to counter this menace.
When drugs are used, by amount and methods, which are harmful to the individual and others it becomes drug addiction. Sometimes people abuse other psychoactive substances including alcohol and illicit drugs which becomes harmful or hazardous this is termed as substance abuse. Presently, people have indulged in the abuse of other psychoactive substances like petrol, thinners, fevicol and boot polish.
Why people abuse drugs?
There are number of reasons due to which people get involved in drug addiction and illicit trafficking. Negative parenting, poor handling of stress, peer pressure, lack of care, relationship and financial crisis, conflict within the family, political uncertainty, loneliness can facilitate and push people towards drug addiction. Some people abuse drugs as pleasure while others abuse them to suit their status (their perception).
Mostly drug addicts use four types of drugs in Kashmir. These are stimulants, depressants, painkiller and hallucinogens. Sometimes drugs used as medicine are abused by drug addicts. Most Over the Counter (OTC) drugs abused are cough and cold medicine (dextromethorphan). This drug makes them drunk and intoxicated.
Every year on June 26, we celebrate International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. Due to urbanization, industrialization and globalization people migrated at large scale from less developed areas to more developed areas. Rapid socio-economic and technological change has weakened the structure of family and sense of belongingness.
On the other hand, underdeveloped countries missed this opportunity. When drug mafias consolidated their illicit trade, they involved some underdeveloped states and their institution in support of this illicit trade. Moreover, huge turn over and perks helped this menace spread worldwide.
Youths, specifically adolescence, get quickly involved into this menace. Drug mafias exploit their innocence. First they use drugs just for the pleasure and hallucination because of fit in with friends and peer pressure. In the beginning, they abuse simple and low cost drugs like cigarettes and bung (charas) but when they get addicted and move to the next levels, the cost of drugs escalates. To buy drugs they need a good amount and to meet their ever increasing demand they become drug peddlers and steel valuables of parents and other family members. Moreover, easy availability of drugs make people more prone to drug addiction.
When people become drug addicts they show marked modification in their behavior. They lose interest in their routine work and stop self-care. They start to live alone (social withdrawal) and change their friends. Their eating and sleeping habits become irregular. They show irritation, aggression and lethargy. Finally, they get involved into crimes. Physical changes include bloodshot or glazed eyes, dental issues, abrupt weight change, skin change and sleeping problems.
The first target of drug addiction is the health of an individual. It also affects the economy of a family. The family order harmony and pleasure is lost. The drug addict lacks concentration, power of decision making and ignores his self. He escapes social responsibilities therefore becomes a liability for the society.
When a person faces some crisis in life, they need support to come out of them. They need to share their feelings with their dear ones. If parents, teachers and elders are not ready to pay any heed or sympathy towards them, they are gradually slipped into drug addiction. The timely intervention by the society specifically by the role players like parent’s teachers and elders will prevent large number of people to become drug addicts. Parents cannot escape the responsibility.
Also, the role of society has a major part in rehabilitation process. During relapse or recidivism drug dependents need social and moral support, besides treatment, which society can aptly provide them.
Drug addiction can be eradicated at societal level. Role of law enforcing agencies is vital but at later stage. We need a rigorous and continuous program of awareness and education to counter this menace. Role of professional psychologists/counsellors at school level can help in breaking the chain. We should discourage the drug addiction in all forms but support the drug addicts in rehabilitation and during relapse period. Drug addicts are part of our society. They are our dear ones. If we ignore them it will only intensify the gravity of the problem. If we don’t wake-up and stand as a unit, this social evil will engulf our budding generation.