Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

Kashmir Sees 2,000% Spike in Heroin Abuse Cases in 5 Years, Report

July 13, 2022
Heroin

Every hour, a new drug addict enters the death addiction center of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2016, the Srinagar Government Medical College Center for Oral Substitution Therapy (OST) reported only 489 cases, an increase of seven times to 3,000 in 2017. In 2019, the number rose to 7,000 and exceeded 10,000 in 2021, an increase of 2000% overall in the last five years, CNN-News18 has reported.

Officials say the number of drug addicts in the union territory is on a “scary constant rise”. What’s more worrying, they say, is that these patients range from across the socioeconomic classes, from different regions in J&K, and from the age group as young as ten to twelve years.

Officials say the number of drug addicts in the union territory is on a “scary constant rise”. What’s more worrying, they say, is that these patients range from across the socioeconomic classes, from different regions in J&K, and from the age group as young as ten to twelve years.

Dr Fazal, a senior resident at OST Srinagar, who deals with such patients on a day-to-day basis, says “Until 2010 we had only heard of mental health issues related to pharmaceutical opioid addiction in Jammu and Kashmir. Heroin cases started in 2012 but in 2016 we saw a massive boom. Since then, 95% of patients with addiction have been heroin users. The overall rise in the number of drug abuse patients is mammoth. From less than 489 patients in 2016 at our centre, the number of patients grew to over 10,000 in 2021. This has left us all shocked and worried. What’s more worrying is that at least 35% of these patients in 2021 were students. Around 60%-70% of all patients suffer from critical illnesses like hepatitis B or C and even HIV in some cases,”.

Yasir M Choudhary, director, National Health Mission, J&K government, said the rise in cases has been apparent and so are health-related issues.

“We receive a lot of cases in our National Viral Hepatitis Control Programme. We have around 1,200 hepatitis C patients registered with us. Almost 80% of these are IV users, possibly drug addicts. These are only the registered cases while many others must have not even got themselves tested. Their medicines are expensive. Drug vials that we give them, many of them sell these to buy drugs. What we foresee is a rise in cases of acute liver failure here,” the officer said.

The menace of drug abuse in Kashmir has not left the woman untouched. In a worrying trend, experts say “one-third” of women are victims of drug abuse in Kashmir. Advocates and counsellors who visit schools and universities for outreach programs say women’s participation is rare because they do not seek treatment or assistance, primarily because of the stigma associated with drug use and related mental health issues.