Govt Survey Paints Grim Picture Of Drug Abuse In Kashmir

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25% Unemployed Youth Involved In Substance Abuse, Addicts Spending Rs 88,000 A Month To Procure Heroin

Srinagar- A survey conducted by the Union Territory administration has brought to fore sensational revelations about rampant drug abuse in the Kashmir Valley, where over 25.2 percent of unemployed youth are found involved in substance abuse.

The survey has been conducted by the Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (IMHANS), Government Medical College, Srinagar, in collaboration with the social welfare department and Directorate of Health.

Although the report is yet to be made public, sources from the department shared key findings of the report with the Kashmir Observer.

The findings reveal that over 2.8% of the total population of Kashmir has been substance users, with 52,404 dependent on drugs currently.

The survey was conducted in all 10 districts of Kashmir and provides a summary of prevalence of various substances in the districts and its associated factors.

The primary objective of the study 2022 in all the districts was to estimate the prevalence of various substances in Kashmir. The study also aimed to assess the pattern of illicit substance use with a particular focus on injection opioids.

The most commonly used psychoactive substance was opioids in every district of Kashmir, the report says.

“In all ten districts, 67,468 individuals were having dependence patterns on psychoactive substances and among them 52,404 individuals were opioid dependent and heroin was the predominant illicit drug that was being used among the opioid users,” it finds.

It also mentions that on an average, a user spends around Rs 88,000 a month to procure heroin.

Overall prevalence of substance use was 2.87 % while as for any opioid was 2.23%. The age of initiation of heroin was 22 years, the report says.

It further finds that the substance use is predominant in young males with mean age of 28 to 15 years.

The Principal investigator of survey was conducted by Dr Yasir Rather MD Professor , Department of Psychiatry , IMHANS, GMC, Srinagar, while Dr Fazle Roub (DM in Addiction Medicine) Consultant , Drug De-addiction center, IMHANS, GMC was the Co- Principal Investigator of Survey.

The team found out that since a couple of years, there has been an “exponential increase” in the extent of use of substances in the Valley.

The report mentions that despite its (drugs) existence in our society, its extent and prevalence and associated factors aren’t well documented.

“Absence of appropriate data leads to lack of formulation of public policies for managing the increasing substance use in the valley. Thus , there was an urgent need of research to assess the pattern and prevalence of illicit substance use in Kashmir valley , in order to further formulate effective programs and policies for dealing with drug use,” it notes.

In this survey, a standard and validated tool, WHO ASSIST (v3.0) was employed to elicit information about the pattern of substance use as well as injection pattern of substance use Respondent Driven Sampling (RDS) was used to collect a sample of 1500 participants- 150 from each district.

“Appropriate measures were taken in order to ensure genuineness, high ethical standards and proper procedures to be followed during data collection,” the report says.

The study analysed alcohol, opioids , cannabis, and sedatives. The survey was conducted independently for each district and the findings projected for the population of Kashmir Valley, the report said.

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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