Srinagar | WTNS | Aug 23: The number of patients visiting OPDs in the Valley’s largest District De-addiction Centre in SMHS Hospital, Srinagar, jumped 75% to 41,110 in the year-ending March 2023, Indian Express reported.
This means that one patient walked into the OPD every 12 minutes.
As per the report, in the previous financial year, over 21,000 follow-up patients and 2,000 new patients had turned up at the DDC while in ’22, the number of new users has gone past 3000 and follow-up patients beyond 38000.
Nearly 75 percent of the patients at the DDC are users of injected heroin, with many diagnosed with Hepatitis B, C, and in some cases HIV.
Eight out of 10 districts in Kashmir got an Addiction Treatment Facility (ATF); the remaining Kupwara has a de-addiction center and the other Ganderbal will have an ATF soon.
Police in their records disclosed that the seizure of heroin has more than doubled to 240 kg in 2022 compared with 103 kg in 2019; three in four drug users in Kashmir consume heroin.
In 2022, as many as 1,850 FIRs were filed by the police and 2,756 arrests were made, showing a 60 percent more than in 2019.
As per the report by Indian Express, Drug usage is rampant among young males aged 15-30, the 2022-23 survey by the Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Kashmir (Imhanks-K) in collaboration with JK admin says 25% of users are unemployed, only 8% are illiterate; 15% are graduate, 14% intermediate, and 33% matric.
The startling figures by the Imhans-K survey reveal that during 2022-23, substance abuse in the Valley was as high as 2.87 percent (of the population) and that opioid dependence was 2.23 percent (of the popular TVtion). In 2019, the opioid prevalence in the whole of J&K (not just Kashmir) was just 1.5 percent as per a 2019 Central government report on ‘Magnitude of Substance Use in India’.
As per the survey, what is really disturbing is the fact that more than 90 percent of all drug users are young men with a mean age of about 28 years.
Of the total prevalence, 52,404 (or 77.67 percent) individuals consumed heroin.
If heroin is the most consumed drug, it is also the most expensive – average monthly spending by a user is a staggering Rs 88,183, according to the Imhans-K survey.
‘Bigger problem than militancy, says DGP’
Jammu Kashmir Director General of Police Dilbag Singh says that drugs are emerging as a bigger threat than militancy in Jammu Kashmir.
In an interview with The Indian Express, the Jammu and Kashmir DGP said, “The drug epidemic is spreading in the valley. If we do not pay attention in time and do not move forward to face the challenge of drugs from now, then a lot of pain awaits us.”
The DGP claimed that Firstly, Pakistan agencies, which were earlier in the business of militancy, have taken it up as a matter of policy to use drugs to fund militancy as well as to mix militancy with social crime to harm society and punish the people of Jammu Kashmir for choosing peace over militancy.
“It was done in Punjab in the same way and while the state’s militancy died a long time ago, the problem of drugs is as threatening as ever. We are moving in the same direction,” said Dilbagh Singh, the DG of Jammu Kashmir Police.