‘Growing drug addiction taking form of epidemic in JK’

‘Growing drug addiction taking form of epidemic in JK’

Ishtyaq Ahmad

Srinagar, Jun 26: The drug addiction is widespread, fast-rising and is quickly taking the form of an epidemic in Jammu and Kashmir, says Drug De Addiction Policy.
Studies conducted in recent years have shown an alarming increase in drug abuse.
One of the studies conducted by Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (IMHANS), of Govt Medical College Srinagar, has found that over two-third of patients in the study had started substance abuse in the age group of 11-20 years.
To tackle this problem, authorities said that they have decided to set up of a drug de-addiction centres with adequate facilities at SKIMS medical college, Srinagar and in five new medical colleges and hospitals of the state.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq on last Friday also expressed concerned over growing drug and liquor abuse in Kashmir. “Members from cross section of society have been informing me. I have been receiving large number of letters suggesting the menace of drug addiction is spreading far and wide in Srinagar and across the valley especially among the youth including girls,” Mirwaiz had said.
Governor Satya Pal Malik on Saturday also hailed Mirwaiz for speaking on drug abuse.
Data from Srinagar’s SMHS hospital show an 85 percent increase in the number of drug and substance abuse cases, from 410 in 2014 to 759 in 2016.
Combined cases of drug abuse and related psychological issues also went up from more than 14,500 cases in 2014 to 33,222 in 2016, a staggering 130 percent increase in two years and till April 2017, this number was 13,352.
A United Nations International Drug Control Programme survey in 2008 estimated 70,000 drug addicts in Kashmir, out of which 4,000 were women.
Further, the figures released by Crime Branch Kashmir of total persons arrested in relation to drug related crimes since 2012 was 614, in 2017 the number increased to 1363, an increase of 122 percent in five years.
Experts say the geographical location of Jammu and Kashmir helps in easy availability of drugs in the state. “Stress and the overall turmoil naturally play a role but other factors like peer pressure, unemployment, easy availability (of the drugs) and the fact that no one wants to talk about the issue is an area of concern, too,” said one of the psychiatrist and professor, who has been practising for years at the SMHS Hospital.
According to home department data, between October 2014- 2016, more than 3800 people were treated for de-addiction in Jammu, Srinagar, Anantnag and Baramulla. The highest number of cases came from Srinagar (2,260), followed by Jammu (610), Anantnag (603) and Baramulla (391). (KNS)