One Generation to Gun and another to Drugs, both are politically motivated tactics against Kashmiris.
FOR the last two decades, the people of Kashmir valley are trapped between the Indian army and militants. This long drawn conflict is responsible for the deteriorating mental health of the people and the drastic rise of drug abuse in the valley.

Drugs continue to ruin the lives of thousands of people in Kashmir, while Baramulla and Anantnag districts top the chart of drug abuse. The state is badly hit by drug addiction for the last couple of years. As per an estimate, 45 percent population in Islamabad and 40 percent population in Baramulla is believed to be affected. It is unfortunate that drug addiction in the valley has received little attention from the government as well as NGOs who are just giving cosmetic touches to the problem. It is a hot social problem and needs concrete steps and strategies to go with. The government, mass media and other social organizations must work with great coordination and close knitting to nip the evil in the bud.

In the absence of any formal counseling and psychiatric help at the school, higher secondary and college level, drug addiction is rising among the youth of this valley. The survey conducted in the Year 2008 by UNIDC in the valley to assess the graph of addiction. According to the United Nations International Drug Control programme, that in Kashmir valley 70,000 drug addicts are existing, including 4000 women. Added that 70 % of drug addicts had been found among the student community. While it is shocking that 26% of drug addicts are female students. The mere slogan on roads “Say No To Drugs” will never yield any result. We have a collective responsibility to find a cause as well as remedial measures for the safety and security of our youth. A study by the sociology department of Kashmir University reveals that 35 percent of youth between 15 to 25 years of age have taken to drugs. The innocent killings, injustice, unemployment and the drastic rise of crimes are directly or indirectly responsible for the alarming rise of drug abuse in the Kashmir.

Well, known sociologist, Dr. Tabla says, “We lost one generation to the gun and we are going to lose the next generation to drugs.” This is a great hint to understand the cause of drug addiction in Kashmir. It seems that the invisible hand is behind this alarming rise of Drug addiction in Kashmir. Drugs go by different names on the street than their actual name in order to make communication confidential between the teens and a dealer. The drugs are wisely and systematically sold and buyed in a market.

The street name of drugs can help us find whether our teen is using drugs or not. The common street name of drugs are Scorpio, Ice, Haircut, Weed, Gold Star, Grass, Bush, Soda, 420, Aspirin, Pearl, etc.

In 2004, 250,000 deaths were reported worldwide due to drug abuse; alcohol claimed 2.25 million lives, while tobacco touches 5.1 million deaths globally during the same time period.

To be noted that in contemporary scenario 80 per cent drug users in Kashmir valley comprise those who consume prescription medicine. Availability of pharmaceuticals across the counter has added fuel to the fire in serious rise of addiction.There is no check on over-the-counter sale of such medicinal drugs by medical stores. Those belonging to the age group of 15 to 30 are more vulnerable to drug abuse.

The youths have an easy access to such drugs. Those who are responsible for supplying the drugs are never caught. The acute conflict , Political tensions, Insecurity and War like situations in Kashmir valley will surely increase the number in the list of addicts. This is a social problem and challenge and need to be addressed at earliest .

The government, NGOs, civil society, responsible citizens, volunteers, and religious clerics have a responsible role to play in eradicating this demon from the land of reshis and sufis. Let us hope and pray that, one day, we would defeat the menace of addiction in Kashmir valley.

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