Tackling Drug Addiction in J&K

The growing menace of drug addiction has become one of the most pressing issues in Jammu and Kashmir. The 10th UT Level Apex Committee meeting of NCORD, chaired by the Chief Secretary, emphasised the necessity of a multi-faceted strategy to combat this problem. The meeting underscored the importance of establishing In-Patient Department facilities for drug de-addiction in all major district hospitals, ensuring regulatory measures for pharmacies, and enhancing enforcement and rehabilitation efforts. These steps reflect a serious commitment to addressing the complex issue of drug addiction in the region. Currently, while IPD facilities have been established in all seven Medical Colleges of the UT and de-addiction centres exist in all 20 districts, the expansion to district hospitals is imperative. This will not only make treatment more accessible but also reduce the burden on existing centres, ensuring more comprehensive care for those in need.
A significant part of tackling drug addiction involves strict regulation of pharmacies to prevent the illegal sale of psychotropic and scheduled drugs. The directive to install CCTV cameras and computerised billing systems in all pharmacies, particularly in urban areas, is a crucial step. Such measures will help in monitoring and controlling the sale of these substances, ensuring that pharmacies operate within the legal framework. The cancellation of five licenses and suspension of 169 others by the Drug Controller for violating norms shows a commendable enforcement drive. However, continuous monitoring and stringent actions against offenders must be sustained to create a deterrent effect.
The CS call for detailed district-wise statistics on drug-related cases and actions taken against convicts is a move towards a data-driven approach to tackling drug addiction. This will enable authorities to identify hotspots, track progress, and deploy resources more effectively. The police’s success in arresting 1,187 people and registering 837 cases this year, along with significant seizures of narcotics, highlights the ongoing efforts. Yet, improving the quality of investigations to enhance conviction rates is essential. Ensuring that properties seized from drug traffickers are recorded in revenue records will add another layer of accountability and transparency to the enforcement process.
Rehabilitation of addicts is as crucial as enforcement. The data presented during the meeting, showing that 1,37,329 people have visited OPD facilities, along with those visiting police, social welfare, and private de-addiction centres, underscores the demand for such services. The presence of trained psychiatrists and SoPs in these facilities is a positive development. However, more efforts are needed to expand these services and ensure follow-up care to prevent relapse. Awareness campaigns play a pivotal role in prevention. The involvement of various departments in running the year-round campaign is important. These campaigns should focus on educating youth about the dangers of drug abuse, promoting healthy lifestyles, and providing information about available support and rehabilitation services.
The emphasis on converting agricultural lands previously used for illicit crops like hemp or poppy to diverse, legal crops is a proactive step. The Excise Department’s role in furnishing details of such conversions, corroborated by the Agriculture Department, ensures the sustainability and acceptability of these efforts. This not only helps reduce the supply of raw materials for drug production but also supports farmers in adopting alternative livelihoods. The establishment of five newly approved NDPS courts, which will be fully functional within a month, is a significant development. These courts will expedite the legal process, ensuring timely justice for offenders and serving as a deterrent for potential violators. A robust judicial system is essential for the success of anti-drug initiatives, as it reinforces the rule of law and enhances public confidence in the enforcement mechanisms.
While significant progress has been made, continuous efforts, collaboration among various departments, and community involvement are crucial for sustained success. The fight against drug addiction is a long-term battle, but with a concerted effort, J&K can hope to mitigate this menace and pave the way for a healthier, drug-free future.