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Fighting the menace of drug abuse

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By: Shahid Ul Islam, Mir Tajamul Islam

Drug addiction is the fastest-growing problem among youth across the globe andthe Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir is not an exception. A rapid increase in drug addiction among young boys and girls has emerged as a serious challenge for the society as well as law enforcing agencies.

The youth in the valley of Kashmir are falling prey to drug abuse at an accelerated pace and rather than being at the forefront of building the nation, they are becoming victims of drugs and thus not only spoiling their own lives but also of their families. The parents can’t escape the blame. Hazrat Ali (RA) said: “Surely the heart of the youth is like the uncultivated ground- it will accept whatever you throw upon it (and that is what will grow from it).”

Against the backdrop of this wise saying, youth taking to drugs is a question mark for us as a society and indicates that there is something wrong within the society. There is a need to find out what makes our youth choose this path and why they are doing so. As per some reports, from unemployment to failed relations, there are several reasons for youth to pick drugs.

Primarily it is the responsibility of the family to mentor their wards to go in the right direction. For that, parents need to establish communication with their children and discuss their issues threadbare. Unfortunately, there is growing lack of communication between parents and children and several issues are therefore left unattended that eventually force children to take such steps.

It is therefore the responsibility of the parents to develop friendly relations with their children and to be there to share their frustrations and work out things for them in an amicable manner.

A country cannot prosper without the contribution of every citizen, youth being the most important component. The youth should seize possibilities in all areas of the nation’s advancement and development. There is a need to promote and practice a growing entrepreneurial culture among the youth for whichsocial media and technology can also be best utilized by youth to stay focused and explore opportunities for their future.

Drug abuse is a pervasive problem that affects millions of people around the world. It can have severe and long-lasting effects on the physical and mental health of an individual, as well as on their social and economic well-being in general.The effects of drug abuse on individuals, families, and society are immense that give rise to massive problems asdrug abuse can have a profound effect on an individual’s physical and mental health.

The use of drugs causes a range of health-related problems, including heart disease, liver damage, respiratory problems, and cancer. Drug abuse can also lead to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis which in the long run could result in disabilities of various sorts. It can also have a significant impact on an individual’s social and economic well-being. Many people who use drugs struggle with maintaining employment, relationships, and other aspects of their lives.

Every day we hear some news about drug addicts, drug peddlers and arrests made in such connections. We have created an extremely horrifying environment for our younger generation. As a consequence, the Kashmir Valley is slowly becoming a hub of drugs in Northern India, having more than 67,000 drug abusers, of which 90 percent are heroin addicts, using more than 33,000 syringes daily. With 2.5 percent of the population using drugs, Kashmir has emerged as the country’s top-drug-affected region, ahead of Punjab, where 1.2 percent of the population is reportedly addicted to drug abuse.

In November 2022, the state-level narcotic coordination committee meeting chaired by the Chief Sectary revealed that at least six lakh residents were affected by drug-related issues in Jammu and Kashmir. Over 33 thousand syringes are used to inject heroin by drug abusers in the Valley. Heroin is among the most common drugs used by these abusers. The study shows 90 percent of drug abusers are using heroin while the rest are using cocaine, brown sugar, and marijuana. Most of the users are daily users, usually, a heroin user uses around 1 gm of heroin. It costs around 3-4 thousand Indian rupees. Some abusers use Cannabis or other such drugs which are a little cheaper.

In a study, socio-demographic variables of 189 out-patients with drug abuse who were registered at the Hospital for Psychiatric Diseases, Srinagar were studied. Most of the drug abusers were male, the majority (57.2%) being in the 26-35 age group. Cannabis was the commonest substance abused, followed by heroin. Cannabis abusers had the longest duration of drug use but the lowest rate of drug dependence (29.9%) and lowest rate of multiple drug abuse (6.1%), whereas heroin abusers had the highest rate of drug dependence (88.8%) and the highest rate of multiple drug abuse (83.4%). More than 50% of drug abusers had impairment in health and psycho-social status. Problems with relatives or acquaintances led to treatment contact in about 62% of patients. Other socio-demographic variables such as marital, educational, or occupational status did not reveal any significant difference.

According to one more survey conducted by the United Nations Drug Control Program (UNDCP), there are seventy thousand drug addicts in the Kashmir division alone including women. In Kashmir, Valley 65% to 70% of students are drug addicts. As per government psychiatric disease hospital statistics, 90% of abusers belong to the age group of 17 to 35 years with a lifetime prevalence of drug addiction. Kashmir is known for its attraction to tourists and migrant laborers which increases the rate of different drug use among drug addicts.

Our society is at the verge of moral decline with the rise in drugs while the masses here don’t seem to be bothered by such startling revelations. When it comes to making quick money, we don’t give another thought. Is this the society that will progress?

Before a public outcry, law enforcement agencies should launch a sustained crackdown on drug traffickers to ensure that the deadly substances are no longer in circulation. Though almost every day police come out with statements wherein they claim to have arrested some drug peddlers and confiscated some substance, the very fact that it is happening every day indicates that there is some flaw in the counter-drug operation.

The authorities need to take this issue very seriously and ensure that none within the ranks is involved in aiding and abetting this nefarious business. That said, religious leaders, instead of creating unnecessary controversies during their sermons, should focus on social issues like drug abuse. They should speak frequently about the ills of using drugs and explain to the youth how this has been condemned by Islam.

The state Govt shall have to make extraordinary efforts in this regard and delayed response in controlling this pace of drug consumption would be unacceptable.

The writers are students of law and can be reached at [email protected], [email protected]

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