Alarming trend: Opioids’ consumption more as compared to alcohol in J&K

Latest report highlights new challenges being posed by drug addiction
Sharp rise too noticed in use of sedatives

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Mar 18: Highlighting a shocking scenario about drug-addiction in Jammu and Kashmir, a latest report has revealed much more consumption of Opioids in comparison to alcohol and alarming increase in use of sedatives particularly by the youngsters in this State. These facts have not only put a big question mark on the present mechanism of fighting the menace but have highlighted the dire need of chalking out multi-pronged strategy in order to reverse the trend as early as possible.
Though the menace of drug abuse particularly in the younger generation is continuously increasing across the country during the past several years yet there was absolutely no focus on having proper research on the magnitude and dynamics of drug use.
Due to this, the policy planners were finding it difficult to suggest measures to deal with the problem, which otherwise impacts negatively on the academic, social, psychological and economical development among the people using drugs and their families.
Keeping all these aspects in mind, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in collaboration with the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi conducted a detailed survey across all the States and Union Territories of the country and used multiple approaches to collect the data.
The report, which was released few days back, has highlighted alarming trend vis-à-vis drug addiction in respect of Jammu and Kashmir. It has mentioned that consumption of Opioids in this State has surpassed consumption of alcohol.
As per the report, 3.5% of population between the age group of 10 to 75 years is consuming alcohol while as 4.91% of population of this age group is consuming Opioids (Phukki/Poppy Husk, Heroin (brown sugar/smack) and pharmaceuticals Opioids.
Moreover, 1.54% of population aged between 10 to 75 years is taking sedatives and pharmaceutical Opioids without prescription in a non-medical context. Likewise, 1.31% of population between 10 to 75 years is taking cannabis (Bhang as well as other forms such as Ganja and Charas) and 1.22% of population is using inhalants.
However, the consumption of cocaine, Amphetamine type stimulants and Hallucinogens is far less than other drugs. As per the report, over 25,000 people in Jammu and Kashmir are injecting drugs.
“A substantial proportion of people using Opioids are using it in a dependent or harmful pattern”, the report said, adding “use of drugs through injecting route is a significant public health concern because of the associated risk of spread of infections like HIV and Hepatitis C and B”.
Dubbing more consumption of Opioids in comparison to alcohol as an alarming trend, official sources said that the revelations in the report have put a big question mark on the present mechanism of fighting the menace of drugs.
“The report should act as eye-opener for civil as well as police administration and all the concerned authorities should work out a new strategy keeping in view the big picture of the drug scenario painted in the report and initiate steps on ground to deal with the problem effectively otherwise situation will turn complex in the coming years”, sources stressed.
In the report, all the States have been suggested to change their strategies right from the basic step of generation of awareness in order to address the problem more seriously and with vigorous efforts. It has put a question mark on the effectiveness of the existing awareness generation activities, which according to the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, are very weak.
Thrust has also been laid in the report on putting in place more stringent measures so that youngsters don’t easily get controlled drugs. “Even if laws are to be amended in this regard the States should not hesitate to do so to save the vast population from moving towards the jaws of death”, the report further said, adding “sizeable population across the country is affected by substance use disorders and is in urgent need of help”.