Kashmir has been witnessing a sharp and shocking increase in Heroin abuse, the trends getting reflected in the records of the largest De-Addiction Center at SMHS Hospital: Between 2019 and the end of 2021, there was a 340 percent increase in the number of patients seeking treatment for Intravenous Heroin abuse.
Psychiatrists working in SMHS Hospital said the fact that a large number, running into many thousands, is a monthly affair at the Hospital’s De-Addiction Center.
Every day, distraught families accompanying their loved ones suffering substance abuse visit the hospital in hope of a miracle.
“They expect magic results at times. At times, the families are aware of how addiction is a disorder and needs long-term, continuous treatment, and monitoring,” said Dr. Yasir Hussain Rather, Incharge Drug De-Addiction Treatment Center GMC Srinagar.
Heroin Addiction, he said, could prove life-threatening, especially if it is taken intravenously.
The records from the Center reveal that IV heroin abuse cases recorded in 2019 were 3852. In 2021, the number rose to 13200, a 340 percent rise. In the month of February alone, over 1400 patients registered for IV Heroin de-addiction. Between 2020 and 2021 only, the number has shot up from 6126.
The pattern reveals the dangerous trend of a thickening web of IV Heroin in Kashmir. Not just the IV Heroin, its consumption through other routes, such as sniffing and fuming has also seen a rise.
Between 2019 and 2021 the number of people seeking help for Heroin abuse using foil has increased from 812 to 2317. In February, 216 people abusing the substance through this mode, registered at the Center.
Dr. Rather said that Heroin is a highly addictive substance and often the abusers find it difficult to give it up, even with treatment. “It needs psychosocial support and counseling and medication under a qualified specialist,” he said, adding that many people have overcome the addiction and freed themselves from the clutches of the drug.
The chances of an overdose with IV Heroin are high, according to doctors. They believe that IV Heroin is responsible for the increase in overdose deaths in Kashmir’s young and healthy people.
Many doctors have called for assigning the cause to all hospital deaths, especially if the deceased is less than 40 years of age.
Over the past three years, J&K Government has framed the J&K Drug De-Addiction Policy to involve multiple stakeholders and Government Departments in the fight against drugs.