NEW DELHI, August 5: Around 13.5 lakh people in Jammu & Kashmir consume drugs, with over 5 lakh addicts using opioids, a parliament panel report has revealed. The latest data reveals that about 10 percent of the population is using substance abuse. The Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment report titled ‘Drug abuse among young persons: Problems and solutions, revealed that around 1,68,700 children of 10-17 year age group are drug users in Jammu & Kashmir. As per the report presented to both Houses of Parliament, the Standing Committee comprising 27 Members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, among the 1,68,700 minor drug abusers, 8,000 are using cannabis, 95,000 opioids, 19,000 sedatives, 100 cocaine, 400 Amphetamine Stimulants, 46,000 inhalants and 200 Hallucinogens. The report states that 11,80,000 adults of the 18-75 age group are drug abusers and among them, 3,54,000 are using alcohol, 1,36000 cannabis, 4,47,000 Opioids, 1,51,000 sedatives, 89,000 inhalants and 1000 each of Cocaine, stimulant and Hallucinogens.
The staggering number of drug abusers in Jammu and Kashmir have raised concerns. In recent years, drug abuse in the Union Territory is fast blowing into a major crisis. The latest statistics point out that nearly 10 percent of the population is addicted to drugs. The number is far higher than the data earlier revealed by the Union government some months ago. In a reply in the Lok Sabha to a question regarding drug addiction in the country, the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in March said that nearly 10 lakh people in the Union territory were into substance abuse. More than half of these abusers were addicted to opioids, according to the ministry. According to a recent report by The Scroll, the figures presented in Parliament were based on a 2019 survey on the magnitude of substance abuse across India, which also measured drug use, harmful use and drug dependence. According to that survey, the number of individuals in Jammu and Kashmir addicted to opioids to a degree that needs professional intervention is close to 2 lakh, or 1.5% of its population.
It also pointed out to a recent study on the prevalence and pattern of drug use was carried out in 2022 by doctors at Srinagar’s Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-sciences. Limited to the 10 districts of Kashmir Valley, the study examined 1,500 patients of drug abuse, of which 1,280 were addicted to opioids. More than 50% of these opioid-dependent patients took heroin through injection. The average age of initiation into heroin addiction was 22.88 years, a significant figure in a region where 35 per cent of the population is in the 15-34 age group. According to the study, about 33000 syringes are used to inject heroin by drug abusers in Kashmir every day and on an average a single drug abuser spends Rs 88,183 every month on substance abuse.
The study revealed that Kashmir has surpassed Punjab in drug abuse cases and is currently at the number two position among the top drug abuser states in the country. The different studies and surveys point out to a sharp increase in drug abuse in recent years. According to 2011 census, nearly 8% of its population is into drug abuse. According to a survey conducted by the J&K administration in 2019, some 600,000 people—over 4.5 per cent of the total population of the Union territory (as per Census 2011)—are into some form or other of drug addiction. Of them, 90 per cent were found to be in the 17-33 age group. The substances consumed range from pharmaceutical opioids to heroin and brown sugar. Some experts have also pointed to a possible link between drug abuse and crime. A report in the Frontline followed three cases of homicide with link to drug abuse. Plan to tackle drug abuse The parliamentary committee in its latest report mentioned that the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment commissioned a comprehensive survey in 2018 by the National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC) AIIMS, and on the basis of the survey a comprehensive Scheme, National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR) was formulated for 2018-25 to tackle the drug menace in the country. Under National Action Plan for Drug Demand Reduction (NAPDDR), Department of Social Justice and Empowerment of the Government of India has provided around Rs 4 crore funds for counselling, de-addiction of the drug abusers and around 2000 persons have got benefitted in last three years in J&K, parliament panel report has revealed. As per the survey, about 16 crore of the Indian population between 10 and 75 years (14.6%) of age uses alcohol. “At the national level, there are as many as 19% of the current users of alcohol who consume alcohol in a dependent pattern. 20 lakhs juveniles below the age of 17 consume cannabis and about 2.26 crore individuals (2.1% of the country’s population) use opioids which include opium (or variants like poppy husk, heroin, smack or brown sugar and various pharmaceutical opioids),” the report mentions.