SRINAGAR The Jammu and Kashmir High Court on Friday asked Government to finalize the drug policy in the state.
The draft drug policy reveals that drug addiction was widespread, fast-rising and is quickly taking the form of an epidemic in the Jammu and Kashmir.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a Division Bench of Justices Sanjeev Kumar and Sindhu Sharma directed the authorities to finalize the policy and submit a report before the court by or before next date.
The draft policy was put in place before the court by the Principal Secretary to Government, H&ME Department.
The state counsel informed the court that the policy would be finalized after receiving the comments and suggestion from the general public. The draft policy reveals that drug de-addiction centers should be integrated with the main hospitals to facilitate de-stigmatization of treatment process that occurs when centers are established in isolation.
Referring to the studies conducted in recent years, the draft policy says that the studies have shown an alarming shift in the pattern of substance use in terms of rise in the number of female users and decreasing age at first-use. The draft policy has laid down broad guidelines including classroom programmes delivered by teachers or peer leaders focusing on life and social skills and introducing drug-resistance skills to address the problem.
The scientific data based on community surveys on drug-related problems in Jammu and Kashmir show that deaths have started occurring directly due to overdosages, convulsions, and cardiac arrests and indirectly due to road traffic accidents. The draft policy has asked for involving faith-based organizations to address the issue.
A recent study conducted by Srinagar based Institute of Mental Health and Neuroscience (IMHANS) in a Drug De-addiction centre in Srinagar, found that over two-third of patients in the study had started substance abuse in the age group of 11-20 years. The most common substances of abuse identified included nicotine (94.4%), medicinal opioids (65.7%), cannabis (63.6%), benzodiazepines (45.5%), other prescription medications (43.4%), alcohol (32.5%), inhalants (11.1%), and cocaine (7.5%). The study revealed that poly-substance abuse was found in 91.9% of the studied patients. Inhalant use was seen predominantly among adolescents (54.5%) whereas nicotine (50.2%) , cannabis (49.2%), alcohol (51.1%), opioids (58.4%), and benzodiazepines (53.48%) were more predominant in the age group of 21 to 30 years.
The draft policy has called for stringent laws against the rampant misuse of prescription medications and reckless sale of medication with psychoactive properties at medical shops.