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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

For Kashmiri ladies, medication supply an escape route from nervousness, melancholy Categorical Instances

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It was a windy however heat September morning, and crowds have been gathered exterior the outpatient division (OPD) of the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar, Kashmir. Navigating previous the prolonged queues, this author entered the government-established drug rehabilitation centre. There have been lengthy traces of younger males clutching prescriptions, awaiting their weekly medicines. They have been all sufferers grappling with drug dependancy, primarily intravenous heroin use.

Going previous the hall and up a flight of stairs, this author met a younger girl, Naushiba Jan. Each her arms had mottled marks, bruises, and swollen veins, pointing to heroin dependancy. Twenty-two-year-old Jan’s story started in February 2021 when she met a boy and friendship bloomed into romance. All the things appeared good for the subsequent 10 months. A small argument occurred between the 2 and the boy stopped choosing up her calls or responding to her messages. “I used to be stressed and saved chasing him constantly,” stated Jan. “However the world that I had constructed collapsed instantly once I realized that he’s seeing another person.”

For days, she wandered aimlessly in her neighbourhood, concocting causes to keep away from returning residence to her mom. Sooner or later when she left her residence, she met a good friend. “After I defined what had occurred, she handed me a small paper and in it one thing was rolled, this was the primary time I had seen a white-coloured, powder-like substance. She helped me to eat it, I immediately felt relieved however my head began to spin,” Jan stated. “I someway managed to succeed in residence and straight went to my room, and once I awakened, I realised it was subsequent morning.”

A group of boys play carrom inside the de-addiction centre at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar, Kashmir.

A bunch of boys play carrom contained in the de-addiction centre on the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar, Kashmir.
| Picture Credit score:
Safina Nabi

Hailing from a village in Budgam district round 15 km from Srinagar, Jan used heroine for about two years. She was on the hospital along with her mom, who learnt about her dependancy simply weeks earlier than. “I’m an illiterate particular person, it took me so many days to grasp what was happening along with her as I realised that she had exhausted all of the sources, together with her gold rings, chain, and cell phone to purchase the drug,” her mom stated. “I observed she was struggling, however the specifics eluded me,” she stated, her face veiled with a scarf.

Spreading drug epidemic

Jan is amongst an growing variety of ladies in Kashmir who’re falling prey to drug dependancy. In November 2022, the authorities introduced that at the least 6,00,000 residents have been affected by drug-related points within the area. They stated these folks have been victims of the transborder drug commerce.

Additionally Learn | Why is drug abuse in Kashmir skyrocketing among the many youth?

As per a consumption surveycarried outin 2022, officers stated 90 per cent of customers have been within the 17 to 33 age group. In response to a report revealed by the United Nations Workplace on Medicine and Crime(2014), Kashmir has an estimated 70,000 substance abusers, of whom practically one-third are ladies. In Kashmir, though the variety of onerous drug customers has elevated considerably, the information doesn’t reveal the variety of feminine customers. There aren’t any current surveys or research across the consumption of medication by ladies.

The drug de-addiction centre ticket counter at the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar, Kashmir.

The drug de-addiction centre ticket counter on the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar, Kashmir.
| Picture Credit score:
Safina Nabi

Till the late Nineteen Eighties, hashish was the normal drug utilized by Kashmiri society. Later, codeine-based cough syrups started circulating. In 2010, Kashmir’s drug downside started to swell with the consumption of hashish and different opioids. Subsequently, heroin grew to become extra accessible.

Difficult circumstances

In contrast to Jan who turned to medication after a private heartbreak, Muhiba Bano discovered herself pushed to extremes by difficult circumstances. Wrapped in a inexperienced cloak, a standard garment, she cradled a Kangri (an earthen pot full of embers for heat), her head adorned with a golden and black scarf. Regardless of her youth, she appeared pallid, her lips dry and chapped, nearly as if scratched. Darkish circles creased her eyes.

“After my mom died, my father remarried. My stepmother burdened me with all of the family chores, and her mistreatment prolonged to bodily abuse,” Bano stated. “In my quest for love, I fell for a person and eloped with him, hoping for a peaceable life and a few respect. Sadly, my destiny took a flip for the more severe as he turned out to be an abuser.”

A test kit that is used to detect the type of drugs a person has consumed.

A take a look at equipment that’s used to detect the kind of medication an individual has consumed.
| Picture Credit score:
Safina Nabi

Bano sought solace inside the alleys of Dal Lake in her neighbourhood, the place she spent her free time. Till 2019, she endured the abuse, giving delivery to 2 kids. In August 2019, her husband was amongst these arrested throughout the tense interval following the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Structure. “I couldn’t take this and ran away from residence even abandoning my kids with my in-laws,” she stated. “I believed this was the one escape from abuse and the one likelihood to go away. I reached Jammu and began a name centre job however my coronary heart would yearn for my kids. Going again would imply extra abuse.”

Bano was launched to medication by her roommate who informed her that she would really feel higher and overlook her worries. She didn’t realise that it could be the beginning of one other limitless cycle. After two years, her husband was launched on bail, and he traced her whereabouts and introduced her again to Kashmir. “Jail has modified him, he saved asking for my forgiveness and is even getting me handled,” Bano stated. “However the destruction has been completed. I’ve extreme well being points now. Above all, the physique ache, temper swings and chills by no means depart my physique.”

Professor Zaid Wani of the Institute of Psychological Well being and Neurosciences in Kashmir underscored the hostile penalties confronted by ladies inside the group because of the drug epidemic in Kashmir. In response to Wani, ladies, as major caregivers, typically discover themselves on the frontlines of coping with the repercussions of dependancy. He stated, “The emotional toll turns into palpable as they navigate the complexities of supporting members of the family grappling with substance abuse. Together with the same old results, ladies who’re pregnant can have an effect on the unborn kids as nicely.”

  • An escalating variety of ladies in Kashmir are succumbing to drug dependancy, with authorities reporting in November 2022 that at the least 600,000 residents have been affected by drug-related points within the area.
  • A research carried out by the Authorities Medical Faculty’s Psychiatry Division disclosed that Kashmir has surpassed Punjab in drug abuse circumstances.
  • Docs and counselors at de-addiction facilities all through Kashmir verify the hyperlink between psychological well being and drug dependancy, as highlighted by a 2015 Docs With out Borders psychological well being survey indicating that 41 per cent of the grownup inhabitants in Kashmir exhibited indicators of “possible melancholy.”

Kashmir worse than Punjab

A current research completed by the Authorities Medical Faculty’s Psychiatry Division revealed that Kashmir surpassed Punjab in drug abuse circumstances and was at present within the quantity two place among the many high drug abuser States within the nation. One other research, carried out by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, confirmed that 1.2 per cent of Punjab’s inhabitants have been opiate customers, whereas Kashmir’s person share was 2.5 per cent.

Mehak’s arms are full of puncture marks due to heroin use with an intravenous line.

Mehak’s arms are filled with puncture marks as a result of heroin use with an intravenous line.
| Picture Credit score:
Safina Nabi

Mehak entered the hospital hall and her look supplied no clue about her gender. She was clad in cargo pants, a round-neck sweatshirt, worn-out white sports activities sneakers, and a cap. She willingly agreed to talk to this author. Mehak, 24, discovered solace in medication as an escape from a poisonous family setting rife with frequent disputes, which included her father disowning her brother. “I had no thought what I used to be doing; in these days, there was solely brown sugar, and being a tomboy and pals with many boys, I had easy accessibility,” Mehak stated. “I felt like my mind stopped considering, and generally, I believed my chest would explode. I by no means felt regular, and the primary time I used it, I felt a way of reduction and numbness. Now, I can perceive it was nervousness and stress that slowly was melancholy.”

Overwhelmed by stress, Mehak turned to medication within the eighth grade, a harmful sample that continued for the subsequent decade. The toll was immense, ensuing within the lack of property as she resorted to promoting belongings to finance her dependancy. When her father found the reality, he suffered a stroke and handed away. This loss compelled Mehak to embark on a journey of restoration, and he or she has efficiently maintained sobriety for the previous yr.

Hyperlink between psychological well being and drug dependancy

Docs and counsellors throughout Kashmir, working at numerous de-addiction centres, concur that there’s a profound connection between psychological well being and drug dependancy. “When a affected person visits us or is admitted, we conduct checks, a radical examination, and delve into the affected person’s background. In 90 to 95 per cent of circumstances, sufferers have a historical past of both nervousness or stress, which, with out correct therapy, evolves into melancholy, subsequently main them in direction of drug dependence,” stated Dr Manzoor Wani, Head of the Youth Growth and Rehabilitation Centre in Eidgah, Srinagar.

In 2015, Docs With out Borders carried out a psychological well being survey in Kashmir, which confirmed that 99.2 per cent of the grownup inhabitants reported experiencing or witnessing at the least one traumatic occasion. The outcomes confirmed that 45 per cent of the grownup inhabitants suffered from signs of psychological misery. The info additionally confirmed that 41 per cent of the grownup inhabitants exhibited indicators of “possible melancholy”, of which 37 per cent have been grownup males and 50 per cent have been grownup females.

Additionally Learn | India gazing a substance abuse disaster, survey finds

“It’s extremely difficult to work with sufferers over time and witness them experiencing relapse. Throughout the three days we function within the OPD, we see 300 to 350 sufferers every day, most of them common attendees for follow-ups and drugs. Sadly, the restoration charge is low, probably round one out of 100,” stated Dr Fazle, a lecturer on the Institute of Psychological Well being and Neurosciences’ Division of Psychiatry on the Authorities Medical Faculty, Srinagar. “The primary cause for relapse is that after sufferers bear therapy or are discharged, they return to the identical setting, the identical pals circle, and many others. To facilitate restoration, we want a 100 per cent change, in order that restoration charges can enhance.”

As Bano and Jan embark on their journey in direction of de-addiction, the end result stays unsure. Mehak, decided to reclaim her life, stated, “I misplaced all the things to this dependancy—my fame, my household, and even all my belongings, and I’m on the crossroads of restoration. As soon as I’m off medication, my sole goal might be to assist my pals and acquaintances break away from it, however solely time will reveal what’s going to truly transpire.”

Be aware: The addicts’ names have been modified to guard their identification.

Safina Nabi is an unbiased journalist based mostly in Kashmir. She covers gender, human rights, well being, setting, and tradition.

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