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Escalating Drug Abuse Crisis in Kashmir Valley

06:52 AM Jun 26, 2024 IST | Fiaz Fazili
escalating drug abuse crisis in kashmir valley

The serene landscapes of the Kashmir Valley, often referred to as "Paradise on Earth," are now overshadowed by a severe and growing drug abuse crisis. Thousands of young boys and girls in the region are falling prey to substance abuse, threatening to destroy the future generation. The increasing prevalence of drug addiction in Kashmir is not just a health issue but a socio-economic and humanitarian crisis that demands immediate and comprehensive action.


International Day Against Drug Abuse on June 26 is a chance to fight the harm drugs cause. This special UN day brings people together globally. The theme for this year “The Evidence is Clear: Invest in Prevention”, emphasises the importance of preventing people from falling into the danger of experimenting with illicit drugs and subsequently falling into the trap of dependence on psychoactive substances.


The aim of this year's campaign is to raise awareness about the importance of treating people who use drugs with respect and empathy; providing evidence-based, voluntary services for all; offering alternatives to punishment; prioritizing prevention; and leading with compassion.



The Scope of the Crisis



Drug abuse in Kashmir has reached alarming levels, with statistics indicating an all-time high in the number of young people afflicted. Reports suggest that a significant portion of the youth, both male and female, are engaging in drug use, leading to widespread addiction. This epidemic is not confined to urban areas; it is equally prevalent in rural regions, exacerbating the already challenging socio-economic conditions.


Underlying Causes

Several factors contribute to the rising drug abuse in the Kashmir Valley:

Decades of turmoil and conflict have created an environment of uncertainty and stress. Young people, in particular, are vulnerable to the psychological impacts of violence, loss, and instability, leading many to seek escape through drugs with easy availability and accessibility.

Unemployment and Economic Hardship: Though current administrative setup has eased economic and employment opportunities  for young entrepreneurs prioritising women ,still the economic landscape in Kashmir is bleak, facing mismatch between expectations and realities with high unemployment rates and limited opportunities for the youth. The lack of economic prospects drives many young people towards substance abuse as a means of coping with their frustrations and hopelessness.

Social and Cultural Factors: The breakdown of traditional family structures and the erosion of cultural values have also contributed to the rise in drug abuse. Peer pressure and the desire to fit in can lead young people to experiment with drugs, often leading to addiction.

 The Impact on Youth

The impact of drug abuse on the youth of Kashmir is devastating. It not only affects their health but also undermines their educational and professional prospects, leading to a cycle of poverty and despair.

 Health Consequences

Substance abuse has severe health repercussions, including:

Physical Health: Prolonged drug use can lead to chronic health issues such as liver damage, respiratory problems, and cardiovascular diseases. The risk of infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS and hepatitis, is also heightened due to needle sharing among intravenous drug users.

Mental Health: Drug abuse exacerbates mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and psychosis. The mental health infrastructure in Kashmir is inadequate to address these issues, leaving many young people without the necessary support and treatment.

 Educational and Professional Impact

Drug abuse significantly hampers the educational and professional development of young people. High dropout rates from schools and colleges are prevalent among those addicted to drugs. This not only affects their personal growth but also has long-term implications for the socio-economic development of the region.

 Social Consequences

The modest God fearing social fabric of the valley  is being torn apart by the drug crisis. Families are facing immense strain, and the traditional support systems are crumbling. Substance abuse often leads to increased domestic violence, criminal activities, and social isolation, further entrenching the crisis.

 Addressing the Crisis

To combat the drug abuse epidemic in the valley, a multi-pronged approach is necessary, focusing on prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation, alongside socio-economic development and policy reform.

Education and Awareness: Raising awareness about the dangers of drug abuse through schools, community programs, and media campaigns is crucial. Educational institutions should incorporate comprehensive drug education programs to inform and empower students.Let religious preachers talk more  on abstinence than prevention.

Community Engagement: Strengthening community networks and fostering a sense of collective responsibility can help in preventing drug abuse. Local leaders, religious figures, and community organizations should play an active role in outreach and support.

Economic Development: Providing economic opportunities and vocational training for the youth can divert them from the path of drug abuse. Government and non-governmental organizations should focus on creating job opportunities and skill development programs.

 Treatment and Rehabilitation

Access to Treatment: Expanding access to drug treatment facilities and mental health services is critical. The government should invest in building and maintaining rehabilitation centers that provide comprehensive care, including medical treatment, counseling, and social support.

Stigma Reduction: Reducing the stigma associated with drug addiction is essential for encouraging individuals to seek help. Campaigns and programs that promote understanding and compassion can help integrate recovering addicts back into society.We need more rehabilitation centres encouraging  private parties to come forward

Family Support Programs: Providing support to families affected by drug abuse can enhance the rehabilitation process. Family counseling and support groups can help in creating a supportive environment for recovering addicts.

 Policy and Law Enforcement

Stronger Regulations: Enforcing stricter regulations to curb the influx of drugs into the region is vital. Strengthening border controls and cracking down on drug trafficking networks can help reduce the availability of illicit substances.

Decriminalization and Harm Reduction: Adopting harm reduction strategies, such as needle exchange programs and safe consumption spaces, can mitigate the health risks associated with drug use. Decriminalizing drug possession for personal use can shift the focus from punishment to treatment and rehabilitation.

Collaboration and Research: Collaborating with national and international organizations to share best practices and conduct research can provide valuable insights and enhance the effectiveness of intervention strategies.

The escalating drug abuse crisis in Kashmir Valley poses a significant threat to the future generation. Addressing this issue requires a comprehensive and compassionate approach that includes prevention, treatment, and socio-economic development. By prioritizing the well-being of the youth and fostering a supportive environment, we can help rebuild lives and restore hope in a region that has long been marred by conflict and despair. The fight against drug abuse in Kashmir is not just about saving lives but also about securing the future of an entire generation.

Author besides being a medical doctor is very active in positive perception management of various moral, social and religious issues