Need to intensify fight against drug abuse

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The Kashmir drug issue has gone rampant — that is a fact. As the numbers show, not only the number of addicts have shot upright but the relapses are more often too. However, what remains more alarming than the factor that addicts are now spreading across the cities is the hard drugs seeping in the market. Kashmir has had a long affair with cannabis; a herb grown naturally in the Valley has over the period of time become a part of the cultural discourse as the addicts fought a stigmatized rehabilitation policy. Now, the trends in this fight have shifted — and it is tearing apart the social fabric of this society. A top doctor at Kashmir’s premier mental health research centre says that he has observed a drastic shift since the 2016 civilian uprising. A population gripped by curfews and lockdowns has run out of recreational avenues, the doctor proposes and subsequently falling in for hard drugs. Against 3 percent of heroin addicts among total patients that the Valley’s mental health hospital saw in a month rose to a whopping 90 percent. And this is not only limited to behavioral spillover but a medical impact too: due to the rising number of addicts using heroin as injectable, another epidemic of Hepatitis-C is also a threat to the youth. It is a ticking time-bomb, he concludes. Before it blasts — tearing the society into mere shreds — the action is needed. There is a growing need to treat addicts like patients – rather than criminals. Help is needed, not stigmatisation. There is a significant need for awareness and rehabilitation. The government too needs to make more programs for awareness related to the cons of drug abuse and schools are an important place to start with. It shouldn’t wait, the government, society, and people, in general, have to start now. Kashmir’s youth is already battered — living between curfews and lockdowns with the economy in shambles — the fight against drugs must intensity before it is too late.

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