Rampant addiction, a matter of concern
By Mir Imtiyaz Aafreen
The United Nations International Drug Control Programme survey in 2008 showed that there were more than 70,000 drug addicts in Kashmir, including 4000 women addicts. The survey also revealed that 65 to 70 percent of the student community in Kashmir is taking drugs and 26 percent of female students have also fallen in this trap. More than 70 percent of addicts fall in the age group of 18-35 years.
According to a report published in a local daily on 2nd Feb, 2016, over 2 00,000 people in Kashmir were on opiates and two government hospitals received 69,434 drug addict patients between April and December 2015.
The facts and observations like this are very alarming and if immediate measures are not taken, we may lose our youth completely. The evil of drug addiction has entered in almost all parts of the Valley and almost in every village and town there is a hidden mafia of drug suppliers and the youth go on falling prey to their nefarious designs.
Reasons behind this rampant drug addiction can be many, like three decades of turmoil that have resulted in an increase of psychiatric illnesses, psychological disturbances and the anxiety caused due to increased unemployment among the educated youth. The youth has become the target of major drug peddlers. These peddlers sell drugs and package them as symbols of revolution and freshness but have no regard for the consequences of their actions. Youth taking drugs are more likely to commit suicide. Misinformation about drugs is another danger — the addict or user may take the drugs in wrong doses, which can then lead to a fatality.
Drugs addiction among the youth is killing them morally and socially, as well as psychologically and even physically. And, those dealing in drugs are becoming increasingly wealthier. Drugs addiction is harmful not only for the addicted but also has negative impact on the fabric of the society. The effects of such an addiction can cause dangerous changes in the mind, body and spirit of the drug addict.
The most disturbing aspect of drug addiction is that it is reaching epidemic proportions here. People in our part of the world are increasingly becoming addicted to all kinds of drugs. The worst thing about being addicted to drugs is that it is affecting the youth in every part of the world in a major way. The trouble starts among the school-going children but the problem is intensified with abetment by those who wish to earn money out of selling drugs. The problem among children and youth arises because of a perception that they seem to harbour the notion of their inadequacy for failing to measure up to their expectations of their elders.
The price of drugs can be very heavy. Simple ill-effects of such addiction include physical itchiness, coma and even premature death. On the other hand, the psychological ill effects can make a person become completely dependent on taking drugs in order to survive.
It is the time that society and the government take firm stand on preventing the drug addiction through a mix of reforms. There should be a community plan to stop addiction to drugs. This plan must identify the specific drugs that youth are using. It should build on existing resources such as existing drug abuse prevention programs and it should also develop short-term goals relevant to proper implementation of research-based drug abuse prevention programs. In fact, all preventive measures need to address different forms of drug abuse and addiction and should also target different types of drug abuse and addictions. It should also be tailored to address risks that are specific to certain populations or audience characteristics. It must be aimed at specific populations and at major transition points such as at middle and secondary school levels. The outreach of different active NGOs of the valley needs to be fully utilized for proper community awareness.
Since the majority of people here are Muslims, various religious platforms should be fully used for the eradication of this evil. Preachers, Imams and other religious organizations need to be sensitized and involved to attain the desired results. In Islam, all kinds of intoxicants are forbidden. Narrated Daylam al-Himyari: I asked the Prophet and said: “‘Messenger of Allah! We live in a cold land in which we do heavy work, and we make a liquor from wheat to get strength from it for our work and to stand the cold of our country’. The Prophet asked: ‘Is it intoxicating?’ I replied: ‘Yes’. He said: ‘You must avoid it’. I said: ‘The people will not abandon it’. The Prophet said: ‘If they do not abandon it, fight with them’.” (Abu Dawood: 3683)
The Holy Prophet (SAW) declared, “Allah has cursed ‘Khamr’ (wine), and the one who drinks it and the one who serves it and the one who sells it and the one who buys it and the one who extracts it and the one who carried it and the one for whom it is carried.” In other words, we can say that all those people are cursed who have any kind of association with wine or any other intoxicant whatsoever.
It is reported that in one of his Friday sermons, the Caliph Hazrat Umar (RA) defined ‘Khamr’ as anything that dulls the faculty of thinking. In his reign, the shop of a man was burnt by his order because wine was secretly sold there. Intoxicants cannot be allowed in a Muslim society and we need to educate people about the evil perpetrated by them.
Unless serious measures are taken now, the very future of a large number of today’s youth will be severely compromised. The problem of drug addiction is too real and serious to be ignored. The governments need to involve communities and media in highlighting the perils associated with the drug addiction. Media has a responsibility to highlight such issues with a view to educating people and building a consensus among them to forge a united stand against such scourges. Frequent community awareness programes need to be conducted so that the parents and other responsible citizens are fully aware of all the matters regarding the problem.
Moreover, the full modus operandi of the drug suppliers needs to be exposed before the people so that they may not take an advantage of the ignorance of the people. . Individual efforts cannot produce desired results; so the whole community needs to be taken along to fight this menace.
An appeal to our youth
Always remind yourselves again and again that drugs provide a moment of pleasure but a lifetime of pain. Drugs drag you down, be smart and don’t start. Giving up doesn’t always mean that you are weak. It means you are strong and smart enough to let it go. Drugs are a waste of time. They destroy your memory and your self-respect and everything that goes along with your self-esteem.
(Mir Imtiyaz Aafreen teaches English at HSS Wagar Budgam; and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)