Srinagar: A 24-year-old, Rashid Ahmed was admitted in de-addiction ward of Sri Maharaj Hari Singh (SMHS) hospital at Srinagar by his family around midnight. He also complained of numbness, insomnia and disorientation.
As quoted by DC, Rashid Ahmed said “Last year, Shakeel Ahmed introduced me to heroin for free, so I tried. It became habit and I began stealing money at home. I met drug peddlers all over Srinagar and heroin was freely available.”
Rashid was being treated early this year, with heroin unavailable since august 5 this year, he is unable to cope. “But I want to give it up for good,” he added.
Last year, the centre treated more than 600 people for addiction. Patients as young as eight years old were admitted in the centre.
Most patients were aged between 15 and 30, and 80 percent were heroin users.
In 2016-17, patients numbered around 550 which increased to about 730 in 2017-18.
Youths and Children Addiction:
In Kashmir today, a growing number of young men are becoming addicted.
According to data from a rehabilitation centre at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh hospital, a state-funded facility in Srinagar, the crisis is escalating.
Dr. Arshad Hussain, HOD of Psychiatry and de-addiction at SMHS said, Heroin addiction is on the rise in Kashmir at a very alarming rate. Of the thousand admitted in the ward, nearly 85% used heroin.
More heroin addicts have come to the de-addiction centre since 2016 and most of the addicts dependent on heroin were natives of south Kashmir.
There are multiple reasons for the drug problem, which include lack of awareness, easy availability, peer pressure and living in a conflict zone.
Dr. Arshad explained that some Kashmiris cope with the uncertainty, trauma and anxiety created by the day-to-day conflict by using drugs.
Despite the government’s efforts to curb illegal trade, smugglers have found ways to bypass security checks.
According to a study released early this year by the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, about 4.91 percent of the state’s population uses opioids, mainly heroin, with about 2.1 percent dependent on the drugs while 1.31 percent of the population used cannabis with about 0.12 percent dependent on it. The Jammu and Kashmir state, it said, also had about 25,098 individuals who reported injecting drugs.
As addicts increasingly report of having injected heroin, Yasir Hasan Rather, Associate Professor in the government medical college’s Psychiatry Department and a Supervising Doctor at the de-addiction centre in SMHS hospital warns: “It’s a ticking bomb, that will lead to infections, diseases, and deaths.”