The growing drug addiction and the way forward! 

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By: Asma Mushtaq

Drug addiction has been on rise in Jammu and Kashmir and nearly any day passes without the news of any drug related incident flashing in our media channels and newspapers. It is a tragic trend and must be stopped before it acquires alarming magnitude and we, as a society, the administration, police as well as civil society must come forward to do what we can in this matter.

Drug addiction is becoming more and more common for people of all ages and genders and it significantly impacts modern day daily life. Going to work, raising a child, forming family bonds, and maintaining mental health are all impacted once a person falls into the trap of addiction. It drastically degrades a person’s physical health and harms mental health. When used in large doses, drugs even result in death or seizures.

In Kashmir, teenagers are forgoing their studies and diverting their time to unproductive pursuits. Tragically, their parents only learn of this behaviour when it is already too late. Recently, The National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre of AIIMS had declared that over 6 lakh people in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir were affected by drug addiction. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)’s World Drug Report 2022 estimates that around 284 million people use drugs widely. The maximum growth was reported in the consumption of heroin.

The menace of drug addiction has not only affected youths but other age groups as well. It is a condition in which any person believes that a sense of well-being is achieved only through euphoria, as they feel that every situation is made for them and consider this as normal practice. There are many reasons for its spread- while there are various socio-psychological as well as economic reasons, teens are also very curious about things and they try them for a while. The teens who are already addicted to drugs also get their friends and close associations into the same fold.

Moreover, being exposed to various stresses, youth often end up picking drugs in the absence of a structural mechanism to address issues and their concerns. Besides, some illegal drug dealers, aiming at their personal benefit, also make the drugs easily available for the teens.

To stop this destruction, a number of rehabilitation centers have been established in the past but are still not in control of the situation. If we see, young people are close to ruining themselves and such tragedies continue to unfold before our eyes. Suicides, harming and even killing their close family including parents for want of money for drugs, stealing and other crimes are often reported in our daily news bulletins. The situation is becoming worse day by day.

The shocking incident that took place in Anantnag when a son murdered his mother for money was a telling example of the state of affairs that we are face to face with. Well, this is not the only incident as there are several other such issues that stare us in the face while we are yet to come to terms with it. As a society, we are still to understand the scenario fully and our health sector is also not equipped sufficiently to address this issue.

The historical turmoil that has continued here has deeply impacted the minds of people here and when coupled with the modern-day challenges, it only gets worse.  Parents can certainly play a key role in the development and training of their children by taking keen interest in their children’s daily activities. If the owner of the garden remains ignorant about the garden, then how can he improve the garden? Moreover, the responsibility of the parents is much more important than any other group or class of people as they are the close witnesses to their children’s day-to-day activities. Besides parents, teachers, peers, friends and associates all can help in keep an eye on children as they grow.  We can also help children and young adults by identifying red flags and asking questions related to their mental health.

In addition to this, government institutions like the anti-drug squads, mental health workers, doctors, deaddiction centers, police- all need to focus on this issue and work hard in ensuring that we don’t lose precious lives to addiction.

Unemployment is also one of the major reasons that youth nowadays are involving themselves with drugs. Over the past years, the Kashmir region has witnessed a huge spike in higher education. However, due to the rising unemployment rate and its effects, the students are getting involved in consuming drugs. Who can play a pivotal role in reversing the situation? Is there anyone seriously talking on the issues about why our youth is heading to destruction. Remember, youths are a major part of our demographics, but regrettably, this promising chunk of the J&K population is living in frustration, unemployment, and insecurity. Despite having the best of capabilities, our youths from Kashmir, Chenab, Pir Panjal, and Jammu regions are uniformly caught in a vortex.

The writer is a student at Aligarh Muslim university.

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