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South Kashmir sees spurt in number of drug abusers

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In a worrying trend, South Kashmir districts are seeing a fresh spurt in the number of drug addicts while less drug abusers are visiting the drug de-addiction facilities set up by the government, officials said.

Health officials, wishing not to be named, told news agency around one percent of the total drug abusers are turning up to addiction treatment facilities functional in all hospitals of J&K and the number is miniscule in southern districts.

Figures available with the suggest that the addiction treatment facility at GMC Anantnag in 2020 recorded arrivals of 267 drug abusers in year 2020 followed by 638 in year 2021 and over 400 visits in ensuing year.

Dr Mansoor Dar, Assistant Professor Department of Psychiatry GMC Anantnag told KNO that 90 percent of drug abusers visiting the ATF facility Anantnag are heroin abusers and around 65 percent of the heroin abusers are Intravenous Drug Abusers (IVDA) who are prone to HIV and hepatitis.

He said that most drug abusers don’t visit these facilities due to social stigma and even around 40 percent of the drug abusers visiting ATF don’t follow up due to financial and other issues.

Even there are 30-40 percent chances of relapse among those who completely follow up treatment due to peer group, economic and employment issues, he said, adding that, as a doctor they count the number of drug free years of such persons and due to relapse doctor feels dejected.

He said that the majority of people involved in drug addiction are of the 15-30 age group and the main reasons behind it are peer pressure, drug availability and modelling etc.

It is unfortunate that when a person uses drugs for years together, parents remain unaware and till then there is no social stigma, however, when a person decides to leave it, there comes the stigma, he said, adding that, when a person decides to quit addiction, he needs support and encouragement which most of them, parents, friends and friends don’t do.

When society has failed to stop youth from taking drugs, we need to help them, remain emphatic towards them and stigma is to be accepted by patients, family and the treating doctor, he said.

Parents need to be more vigilant and take care of their children fully so as to keep them away from drug menace and they need to support children to get rid of it when they somehow get involved in any kind of addiction, he said.

He added that ATF at GMC has been made fully functional now where the costly medicines will be provided free of cost and we are hopeful that more abusers will turn up to the facility now.

Principal GMC Anantnag Dr Tariq Ahmad Qureshi told KNO that by making the ATF fully functional, the number of drug abusers visiting the facilities has increased.

Work on 50 bedded drug de-addiction will start in first week of November, he said, adding that rehabilitation of the drug abusers is need of the hour—(KNO)

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