80 pc addicts in Jammu below 30 yrs of age, maximum are students

Study reveals shocking facts on heroin abuse

Nishikant Khajuria
JAMMU, Aug 10: A recent study conducted on addiction of heroin in Jammu, has brought forward some shocking facts and revealed that almost 80 percent of the addicts here are below 30 years of age and 70 percent of them are students.
While maximum number of the addicts is from rural background and about 37 percent of them are jobless, more than 80 percent of the heroin users are from nuclear family and family history of substance abuse is present in 44.46 percent of them. About 33 percent are those whose both parents are working.
The study, published in International Journal of Current Research, has been recently conducted by Dr Abhishek Chowhan, Consultant Psychiatrist in the Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College Jammu, and others.
According to this study, titled “A Study of Social and Cultural Aspects of Heroin Use in Jammu Region, India”, around 70 percent of heroin users are those who are still pursuing their education at some level and about 70 percent of this number has still not completed their graduation.
A scrutiny of educational qualification of these heroin addicts revealed that about half of the patients were those who are either doing or dropped out from graduation (52.05 percent). A total of 29.1 percent were graduate, less than two percent were post graduates and 17.21 percent were those who have not yet cleared 10th standard.
Further, more number of addicts were from rural area (63.52 percent) than urban area and a very high number of these `patients’ were from nuclear family (83.2 percent) as compared to joint family system (16.8 percent). About 62. 29 percent `patients’ (heroin addicts) have both parents working fulltime as compared to 37.71 percent those who have at least one parent homemaker.
Analysis of the age of `patients’ indicates that a majority of them were of the age group of 18-30 years ( 64.75) while 17.21 percent of the addicts were less than 18 years. 16.39 percent Heroin users were between 30 to 40 years and less than two percent were older than 48 years of age.
Among the addicts, 7.79 percent were unskilled while 20.08 percent were in skilled and semi-skilled job. Only 2.87 percent were in professional jobs. Around 8.19 percent of the `patients’ were unemployed and have left studies.
40.57 percent patients have a history of past or current psychiatric disorder while common psychiatric disorder currently was depression followed by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which was also commonest disorder in past.
More than75 percent `patients’ reported peer-pressure and experimentation with the drug as immediate reason for initiation of heroin abuse. About 77.46 percent patients reported that they didn’t know about the ill effects of heroin use before starting its while about 62 percent never knew that treatment existed for getting out of heroin addiction.
The study further revealed that 50 percent of the addicts have shared needles thus putting them at a risk for deadly infections like HIV and Hepatitis C/B. About 18 percent were involved in traffic accidents under influence of this drug while 27 percent have stolen from home to buy the drug and 12 percent had a history of arrest due to any drug related reason.
These are astounding findings of the study, which was conducted over a period of three months on the patients seeking treatment for heroin dependence. The patients of heroin were interviewed by using the questionnaire. If go by the findings of this study, heroin abuse has escalated into a major socio-cultural issue in our State, which needs immediate remedial methods collectively by the Government administration and other agencies.
Since J&K is located very near to a major heroin producing and trafficking region of the world ‘Golden Triangle’ comprising the countries of Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, this has led to a surge in heroin abuse in the State, particularly in Jammu. Though it has remained a well-known fact in administrative and social circles, no systematic study had been so far done to gauge magnitude of the problem.