Srinagar: Drug abuse, known to be widespread among youth in Jammu & Kashmir, is now claiming its new victim, teenage girls. The social stigma attached to the problem and lack of de-addiction centers in the state is worsening the ground situation.
Several cases of substance abuse have been identified in girls, found consuming toluene, a common thinner, officials told Ground Report at a de-addiction center in Srinagar.
Talking to Ground Report, Dr. Manzoor ul Hasaan at the HNSS Drug Rehabilitation Center said that the major causes for drug addiction among girls are stress, the pressure of studies, family disputes, failure in life, examination stress, love affairs. He added that due to lack of facilities, social stigma restricts women from seeking rehabilitation or treatment in the state.
A girl who was getting treated at the center for addiction to toluene said, “it is important to keep in view the social stigma that female drug addicts face, it is important to set up a de-addiction center for girl students.”
Another girl, added that she began with glue sniffing ‘for fun’ during her school days and then moved on to opiates. (drugs derived from opium). Fear of social stigma and lack of facilities in Kashmir, her parents had to take her outside Kashmir for treatment. She said, “now I am fine after the treatment of 11 months, I am okay”.
Abdul Rashid, Former director health, said that ‘glue sniffing’ among teenage girl students have become widespread because the chemical is easily found in common products of daily use. Toluene is found in paints, petrol, varnishes, lacquers, paint thinners, adhesives, glues, rubber cement and shoe polish among other things. He further said that getting other drugs is a bit more difficult for girls than buying ink remover or polish.
Officials added that the health department does not maintain data on the status of drug addiction in Kashmir. Adira, a medical student in Srinagar, speaking to ground report said that youth on drugs may physically live in the same house with their families, but be alone emotionally. She added that they do not care about what happens to their near ones and these insensitivities extend towards society.
The problem of drug abuse in Kashmir was first highlighted a decade ago by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme survey in 2008 which showed that there were more than 70,000 drug addicts in Kashmir. That survey also revealed that 65 to 70 percent of the student community in Kashmir was into drugs and that 38 percent of female students were involved in drug abuse. More than 70 percent of addicts fall in the 18-35 age-group.
Due to rising tensions in the state and political instability, there has been no study on the issue in last 10 years.