The term “drug” can refer to any chemical substance that alters your brain chemistry, affects your feelings and perceptions, or changes the way your body functions. Drugs may include prescription medications, illegal street drugs, marijuana or alcohol. Some users seek out drugs in order to relax and unwind, while others turn to chemicals to expand their perceptions or give them energy. For many addicts, drugs are a way to relieve physical or emotional pain.
Focussing on Kashmir, the total number of drug addicts in Kashmir is an enigmatic static, with many experts in the medicine and law enforcement saying most previously believed figures do not take long to become outdated. There hasn’t been a systematic and scientific study, regarding the total number of drug users in Kashmir.
No one has taken the onus that is why the numbers are old and redundant and hence, strong data highlighting the urgency of this problem is unavailable to the Kashmiri people. But according to the Hindustan Times report of 2017 on drug addiction in Kashmir, there has been 85 percent increase in the number of drug and substance abuse cases.
Data from Srinagar’s SMHS hospital show an 85 percent increase in the number of drug and substance abuse cases, from 410 in 2014 to 759 in 2016.
Combined cases of drug abuse and related psychological issues also went up from more than 14,500 cases in 2014 to 33,222 in 2016, a staggering 130 percent increase in two years and till April 2017, this number was 13,352.
A United Nations International Drug Control Programme survey in 2008 estimated 70,000 drug addicts in Kashmir, out of which 4,000 were women.
Further, the figures released by Crime Branch Kashmir of total persons arrested in relation to drug related crimes since 2012 was 614, in 2017 the number increased to 1363, an increase of 122 percent in five years. What is more alarming and disquieting is that instead of being foreign elements from the border, there are domestic elements when it comes to increasing trends in drug use and distribution
Here, it is also indispensable to know that what really gives rise to drug addiction! What are the causes and factors? Though, the exact cause of drug addiction remains a mystery, but according to the National Institutes of Health, there are certain factors that may make certain people vulnerable to addiction:
- An underlying mental disorder, like schizophrenia, depression or generalized anxiety
- A low sense of self-worth combined with a tendency to peer pressure
- Exposure to high levels of stress from personal, professional or financial sources
- Exposure to an environment where drug use is accepted and drugs are readily available
Education alone isn’t enough to help an addict get clean. But learning about the dangers of drugs can be an important step if anyone of us are thinking about experimenting with heroin, marijuana or meth – or if you’re wondering whether you’re ready to seek help for addiction.
Further, recent Research has found that drug addiction can pose different dangers in different settings – all of which can affect more people than just the user.
Physical dangers to the user include: developing a tolerance to the drug, developing psychological and physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms when trying to cut back or quit and other physical problems like irregular heartrate, high blood pressure, lung damage, and seizures. There are also other dangers like jeopardising your relationships with friends and family, neglecting work responsibilities, having an increased risk of crime, losing your life etc.
Moreover, for professional counsellors and doctors, it can be hard to identify the point where recreational drug use crosses over into addiction. But it isn’t hard to recognise the damage that drugs can cause to a person, a family or a community. The dangers of drug addiction are far-reaching, ranging from an individual to a national level. When you’re ready to confront your own addiction, your main concern should be how drug use can affect your life and the lives of those around you.
We should also know and understand that drug addiction rarely happens overnight. You may start by doing a little speed to lose weight or taking prescription pain medication after a car accident.
Before long, you may notice that you’re spending more time thinking about how you’re going to get the drugs, when you’re going to take them and how you’re going to pay for them. You may feel anxious, depressed or angry when a deal falls through or you can’t get your prescription filled. Similarly, here is the analysis of the stages of drug dependence:
Your body gets used to a certain amount of the drug. You can tell that you've reached a state of tolerance when you find yourself needing more of the drug to get the effects you're looking for.
You've gotten used to the sensations that a drug generates, and you feel disoriented, edgy or unable to function when you can’t take the drug. Psychological dependence doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re physically dependent on the drug, but the compulsion to use the substance may be so powerful that it looks like a physical addiction. Drugs that often cause psychological dependence include marijuana, meth and hallucinogens.
Your body experiences strong withdrawal symptoms when you stop using the drug, such as, nausea, vomiting, sweating, shaking or seizures. Drugs that can cause physical withdrawal symptoms include alcohol, heroin, benzodiazepines (valium, xanax and Ativan) and cocaine.
Although there is no universal definition for drug addiction, this condition is often defined by a compulsive need to seek and obtain the drug of choice. Addiction is also defined by the dangers that it presents to the user, including the danger of physical illness, the threat of violence, exposure to crime, the destruction of personal relationships and the loss of personal integrity.
By the time a drug user reaches a state of addiction, he or she may be beyond the point of asking for help. Intervention by loved ones, employees, social workers or law enforcement may be necessary to keep the addict from harming himself/herself.
Addiction also puts oneself at risk of violence, accidental or self- inflicted injuries, motor vehicle accidents and sexually transmitted diseases. When you’re addicted, it can be hard to make wise decisions about your body.
Addicts often neglect their health and may be unaware of their declining mental and physical condition. Because denial is a big part of addiction, a person who is addicted may be able to convince themselves that they are perfectly okay (likewise nowadays in Kashmir when children insist their parents to stop smoking), even if they are losing weight, have heart palpitations, suffer from paranoia, or have serious dental problems.
Also, we as a Kashmiri nation (who are already devastated by the armed conflict) and especially our youth should keep in mind that some of the greatest dangers of addiction don’t involve injury, illness or homicide, but the death of close personal relationships.
By its nature, addiction separates the user from his or her loved ones, so that the addict's relationship with the drug takes precedence over everything else. Also, thereafter rebuilding relationships isn’t always easy. Drug abuse takes an emotional and financial toll on a relationship, and trust is often shattered by the addict’s erratic, dishonest or violent behaviour.
So, the above discussion clearly depicts the devastating effect of drugs on an individual's life. That is why I strongly believe there is a greater need of keeping our youth in Kashmir away from these horrendous drugs. Important measures should be taken to prevent drug abuse.
For addicted ones, there should be a comprehensive treatment program which should include family counselling as well as individual therapy and participation in a support group.