There is a dire need for moral counseling sessions to valley youth
People in Kashmir have been through decades of violence and depression resulting in an epidemic of traumatic disorders among its population. Post-stress co-morbidities like emotional distress, psychological problems and psychiatric disorders have definitely taken a toll on this most impressionable sub-group of the population. Compared to a child or an adolescent of 1980s, present age kids are short-tempered and get provoked on relatively minor issues. Most of the children have witnessed many events in the last over three decades which would reflect adversely on the psyche of any human being in any part of the world. The present uncertain situation and conflict-related factors significantly contribute to the development of negative behavioral tendencies. An alarmingly high percentage of adolescents are falling prey to drug abuse and if the problem is left unattended, the situation could go out of hand in future. A number of psychiatric problems have emerged like Depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. The conflict-ridden valley has also seen a tremendous rise in substance abusers over the past many years owing to the sedentary mode of lifestyle among its youth that has been virtually cut off from the external world for quite some time now. Most of the drug abusers get into out of this immediate curiosity and belief that it will alleviate their social and personal problems like stress, trauma, anxiety or depression. Some people become addicted to these harmful drugs because of the bad company they keep, too much pocket money they possess, lack of parental direction or guidance, easy availability of drugs and so on. But poor section of society is in no way an exception to this rule, that this rising trend of drug abusers have taken over the valley youth by a storm sending alarm bells to both their family and administration at the helm, to come up with an out of box strategy so as to get over with this rising menace.
The government at its end has made the draft drug de-addiction policy public, the document of which has revealed that drug addiction is widespread, fast-rising and is quickly taking the form of an epidemic in the State. Several studies conducted in the valley revealed that youth, particularly between the age group of 17-30, are involved in this menace of drug addiction. Government Psychiatric Hospital Srinagar, the only mental health hospital in the valley, in one of its reports had stated that most numbers of drug addiction cases belong to a very young generation. 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-thirds 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 worst part of this rising menace in Kashmir is that studies conducted in recent years have shown an alarming shift in the pattern of substance use in terms of rising in the number of female users and decreasing age at first use. The scientific data based on community surveys on drug-related problems in Jammu and Kashmir show that deaths have started occurring directly due to over dosages, 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. But it is to be made clear that not faith healing policy will alleviate the sufferings of people involved, from this menace. There should be a clear cut policy vis-à-vis regular security check at suspected, isolated & identified places to curb these immoral activities of youth. In addition, there should be separate moral based counselling sessions at every form of social and religious importance. Special awareness programs regarding substance abuse should be a regular feature of schools, colleges, universities & elsewhere, too aware youth regarding different anti-health and deleterious effects of substance abuse. These are not the only things that can be done at our level to curb this rising trend. We must adopt multilateral strategies and international response to illegal drugs to tackle production, supply and demand at the grassroots level. The lesson of history seems to be that the more drugs are available, the greater the use. The drug trade is an economic activity and destroying fields of farmers will leave them to starve. They will be even keener to plant some more. There is a need for bilateral and multilateral cooperation to deal with the problem of drug production. Providing alternative crop promotion, destruction of refineries, seizure of precursors including chemicals for production, demand reduction, law enforcement and seizing of illicit profits are some of the points government agencies can work with to eradicate this menace.
Almost all people know this but unfortunately very few among us are able to understand and realize what harm drug addicts and alcoholics do to their families and to themselves by consuming narcotics and alcohol. They indulged in these activities thinking that they will get rid of their worries and depression. They should realize that by consuming drugs, their problems are not going to decrease but instead they are inviting more problems. Day by day the demands of the addicted people increase due to which they need more money to fulfill them and hence indulge in various illegal activities like robberies, murders etc. People who take drugs and alcoholics lose their sense of judgment and control. Many precious lives are lost because of drug addiction. Families which include their father, mother, wife and children have to suffer a lot in their day-to-day life whether it may be socially or financially. This makes their life miserable. The life of such people becomes a living hell. Children of affected people have to encounter a lot of difficulties whether it be their school fees or any other need especially the love and care of their father. Fights and exchange of harsh words become the norm in their homes leaving a bad psychological effect on each and every family member. Anxiety, frustration and insecurity in children are a heavy price to pay for addiction and alcoholism. Children wish that their life would be like those normal families who enjoy their life. Their mental set-up is changed and it really hurts when to think that they will adopt the habits of their parents and in future will become addicts like their parents. Besides, their daughters may not get a perfect match because nobody wants to keep a relationship with such people and hence daughters suffer for the crime they never committed. Ask the mother of a drug addict how does it feel on seeing her son going slowly towards death. The answer from the mother will be quite astonishing and heart wrenching. Nobody wants to see his family living in a state of abject immorality and in dire straits of poverty, but for it to live a state of a dignified life, all it requires at first place, proper guidance to our brothers, sisters and neighbours to prevent them from indulging in substance abuse. We need to teach them the morality of a good human being through religious teachings.
Author is a freelance writer and currently working as Doctoral Research Scholar (DST INSPIRE FELLOW) at CSIR–Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu, (J&K).