SRINAGAR: They smoke it, sniff it, eat it, inject it and temporarily escape into a deceptive world.
Be it a way to fight personal crisis, means to wipe the mental scars or just a sign of being cool, the youth in Kashmir have fallen into the net of drugs, with such cases increasing by 35-40 per cent in the last few years.
Dr Arshad Hussain, a psychiatrist at the Government Psychiatric Diseases Hospital (GPDH), Kashmir, says the menace of drug addiction has gripped the city, with mostly youngsters falling into the trap.
“There is no doubt that drug abuse has increased in Kashmir. Historically, a low drug addiction zone, Kashmir has lost its innocence. The statistics now are alarming. Mostly youth in the 18-35 age group have fallen in the trap. Deaths are reported in young men because of opiates use,” Dr Hussain said.
When Rasheed Ahmad (name changed) remembers how he lost his brother, he cannot help but blame himself for his death. 25-year-old Rasheed worked as a trader in Goa when he succumbed to peer pressure and became an addict. “I was earning a lot but I thought my life was without any fun. So I started going to parties and night clubs in Goa. There I started having cocaine and LSD,” he shivers, recalling the days.
With his condition deteriorating and addiction increasing, Rasheed’s parents brought him back to Kashmir. “My younger brother was forced to quit studies and started working as I became incapable of doing anything. It was just after a few months, that he met with an accident and died,” he said breaking into tears. “I am responsible for his death”.
Among the drugs consumed in the valley are medicinal opiates, such as Corex and Codeine. Benzodiazepines like Diazepam, Alprazolam, Alprax and cannabis derivatives like hashish and marijuana. Besides alcohol intake seems to be picking up, Yasir Arafat Zahgeer, a social worker said.
According to a report published by a local daily, a majority of Class IX students of a famous school in the valley are hooked on to nicotine and inhalants.
17-year-old Mubashir (name withheld), who is being treated at a de-addiction centre here, has a grim look but smiles when he remembers how good he was with girls at school.
“I did a mistake once and then it became a compulsion,” Mubashir said. He was 14 when he first started taking drugs.
“I started with fluid eraser, petrol and fevicol. I was very good at studies. Everyone says I am intelligent but there is no use of it now. I wanted to become a cricketer but I wouldn’t be able to do that now, I know,” Mubashir said.