FOR the last two decades, the people of Kashmir valley are trapped between the Indian army and militants. This long drawn conflict is responsible for the deteriorating mental health of the people and the drastic rise of drug abuse in the valley.

Drugs continue to ruin the lives of thousands of people in Kashmir, while Baramulla and Anantnag districts top the chart of drug abuse. The state is badly hit by drug addiction for the last couple of years. As per an estimate 45 per cent population in Islamabad and 40 per cent population in Baramulla is believed to be affected. It is unfortunate that drug addiction in the valley has received little attention from the government as well as NGOs who are just giving cosmetic touches to the problem.

In the absence of any formal counselling and psychiatric help at the school, higher secondary and college level, drug addiction is rising among the youth of this valley.

A study by the sociology department of Kashmir University reveals that 35 per cent of youth between 15 to 25 years of age have taken to drugs.

Well known sociologist Dr Tabla says, “We lost one generation to the gun and we are going to lose the next generation to drugs.” Dr Masooma at L. D hospital states that “Drugs go by different names on the street than their actual name in order to make communication confidential between the teens and a dealer.”

The street name of drugs can help us find whether our teen is using drugs or not. The common street name of drugs are Scorpio, Ice, Haircut, Weed, Gold Star, Grass, Bush, Soda, 420, Aspirin, Pearl, etc.

In 2004, 250,000 deaths were reported worldwide due to drug abuse; alcohol claimed 2.25 million lives, while tobacco touches 5.1 million deaths globally during the same time period.

In contemporary scenario 80 per cent drug users in Kashmir valley comprise those who consume prescription medicine.

Availability of pharmaceuticals across the counter has added fuel to the fire in serious rise of addiction.

There is no check on over-the-counter sale of such medicinal drugs by medical stores. Those belonging to the age group of 15 to 30 are more vulnerable to drug abuse. The youths have an easy access to such drugs. Those who are responsible for supplying the drugs are never caught.

The government, NGOs, civil society, responsible citizens, volunteers, and religious clerics have a responsible role to play in eradicating this demon from the land of reshis and sufis. Let us hope and pray that, one day, we would defeat the menace of addiction in Kashmir valley.

SYED KARAR HASHMI Dab-Sadat, Ganderbal Kashmir



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