IMHANS, SMHS received 12001 addiction cases last year
The easy availability of drugs including heroin and cannabis at doorsteps in Kashmir has left doctors worried and they are seeking strong steps to curb the substance abuse, which is “putting everyone at risk”.
Figures available at Government Medical College, Srinagar, reveal that during 2018-19, the Drug De-Addiction Centre (DAC) of SMHS Hospital received 6,476 drug addiction cases in outpatient department and admitted 755 cases.
“Of the total cases 35 percent were heroin cases, cannabis 30 percent, alcohol 10 percent and multiple substance abuse 30 percent,” said Dr Mohammad Maqbool, Head Department of Psychiatry.
He said 88 percent drug addicts were males.
Of the total figures, 37 percent were from urban areas while rest were from rural areas.
“The major age group (42%) was 20-27 years. 45% of cases were single,” he said adding, “Srinagar district tops the list with 40 percent cases.”
Similarly, at the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) Srinagar, 5,525 drug addiction patients, all males, turned up for treatment in OPD during the previous year.
“Of them, 203 had been admitted. Majority of cases were cannabis (45 percent), while heroin cases were less (5 percent). The multiple abuse cases were on the second number. All of them were males. 56 percent of the cases were from rural areas,” Maqbool said.
He said 50% of cases at IMHANS were in the age group of 31-45 years. “70% of them were illiterates while 50% were single”.
Speaking about rampant heroin abuse, Dr Yasir Hassan Rather, professor at IMHANS said 30- 40 percent drug addicts have history of overdose.
“Now people die because of overdose and sometimes they have had a near-death experience. When young people die due to drugs addiction, it is a strong indication that hardcore drug addiction has spread widely. It is very worrisome,” he said.
Yasir said cases of heroin are dreadful and people are still sleeping over the menace.
“People now get drugs at a phone call and can get it at their door steps. Most of the drug addiction cases reported at IMHANS this month were heroin addicts,” he said.
One gram of heroin, an opioid most commonly used as a recreational drug for its euphoric effects, costs Rs 4000-5000 and many people are addicted to it and spend huge sum due to its easy availability.
“On an average one heroin addict takes at 1-2 grams in a day. That is also a reason why they are involved in drug peddling,” he said.
Yasir said now heroin and cannabis is available like cigarettes in the market.
“Heroin has replaced cigarettes. Heroin is so addictive that if one takes it once or twice, one becomes totally addictive. It is very difficult to get rid of it,” he said.
Even the state’s health officials have noticed the trend.
Doctors confirm that there was a surge in number of patients voluntarily seeking treatment.
“Drug addicts know who introduced them to drugs. We need strong steps at an individual level to curb the substance abuse which is spreading. Everyone is at risk,” he said.
According to Yasir, due to easy availability of drugs, even elders are falling prey and many are first time addicts. “Heroin is very common in Kashmir.”
Although the Health and Medical Education department has come up with a drug de-addiction policy but people vouch for its implementation to end the menace.
A government report has stated that drug menace in Kashmir is rampant to the extent that 91 percent of drug abusers have never been held for possession of illegal drugs.