Chairman White Globe
Kashmir, which is referred to as “Paradise on Earth,” has been grappling with a severe social issue that threatens to mar its beauty and tranquility – drug abuse. In recent years, the picturesque valley has witnessed an alarming increase in drug-related problems, affecting individuals, families, and the community at large. A survey by IMHANS across 10 districts of Kashmir found that 2.8% of the population of Kashmir has been substance abusers , with about 53000 currently dependent on drugs, 25% of unemployed youth involved in substance abuse, and addicts spending 88,000 rupees a month procuring heroin.
Now the subject of interest here is, what caused this? Is it the conflict? or the unemployment and accessibility to drugs? In this article we will explore how all of these factors have affected the lives of youth and how can we put a stop to this!
Conflict and Unemployment: Kashmir being a conflict zone has had adverse effects on the lives of people. Existing evidence links conflicts to poor mental health, poor sexual and reproductive health and a toxic environment. All these factors lead to stress and depression. The prolonged conflict in the region has left many young people disillusioned and unemployed. The lack of opportunities has made them susceptible to drug abuse as an escape from their harsh realities.
Social Stigma: The stigma associated with mental health issues and addiction makes it difficult for individuals to seek help openly. In the Kashmiri society a victim of drug abuse is looked down on and is considered immoral and atrocious. This further perpetuates the problem and pushes the victim even more towards using harmful drugs.
Accessibility: Easy access to drugs, often smuggled in from neighboring regions, has made it more convenient for people to experiment with substance abuse. Despite the high security the administration has miserably failed to provide the necessary resources to prevent this catastrophe.
Let’s discuss the adverse effects and consequences of this abuse:
Health Risks: Drug abuse in Kashmir has led to a surge in health problems, including addiction, overdose, and the spread of diseases like HIV/AIDS due to shared needles among intravenous drug users. Rates of heart attacks have observed major hikes in the last decade. Intake of increases strain on the liver, which puts the victim at risk of significant liver damage or liver failure. Seizures, stroke, mental confusion brain damage, lung diseases, problems with memory, attention and decision-making, which make daily living way more difficult.
Effects on people and society : Families are torn apart as they witness their loved ones spiraling into addiction. The emotional and financial burdens on families are immense which lead to a mangled society. Unaware children and youth get introduced to drugs and substance which puts the face of the nation at risk.
Economic Impact: As the valley has been suffering economically from the past 4 decades due to conflict, this adds up to that. The loss of a productive workforce due to addiction impacts the overall economic development of the region. Also the amount of money spent on purchasing of drugs could have been used to improve the quality of life, but it gets drained to a vain cause.
Social Disintegration: Communities are witnessing a breakdown of social bonds and a rise in crime rates as drug abuse takes hold. Cases of domestic violence, rapes and murders are emerging rapidly causing societies to crumble down.
Measures to prevent this:
Awareness and Education: People need to be educated about substance abuse via campaigns, rallies and public awareness programs. Promoting awareness about the dangers of drug abuse and providing educational programs in schools and communities can be a critical step in prevention as most victims of drug abuse are the young people. NGO’s can play a vital role in organising awareness programs and campaigns against drug abuse.
Establishing Rehabilitation Centers: Establishing facilities and rehabilitation centers to provide treatment, counseling, and support to individuals struggling with addiction is essential as it will ensure that the victim is fully taken care of. Therapies, and de-addiction programs can help individuals a lot.
Employment Opportunities: Unemployment is a major factor contributing to drug abuse. Encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation can help in reducing unemployment. If youth are well engaged in their jobs, the less will they go towards drugs and narcotics.
Decriminalization of Addiction: A social stigma of treating addicts as criminals is a threat to society because it should be treated as a public health issue rather than a criminal one which can encourage individuals to seek help without fear of legal repercussions.
In conclusion, the menace of drug abuse in Kashmir is a challenge that the region must confront collectively. It’s not just a problem of individuals but a societal issue that requires a multifaceted approach. By raising awareness, providing support, and addressing the root causes, Kashmir can hope to reclaim its image as a paradise for its people, free from the clutches of addiction and abuse.