The causes of this increase in substance abuse in Jammu and Kashmir are numerous and intricate. Even though things are now dramatically changing in that regard, the region has long been in turmoil, which has had an impact on people’s mental health, particularly the impressionable minds of young people. In addition to the absence of economic growth, there has been a rise in hopelessness and despair, especially among young people. These factors combined have increased unemployment and poverty, which has caused many children to turn to drugs as a means to cope with their problems. A significant contributor to the rise in drug abuse is the region’s simple access to drugs as a result of cross-border drug trafficking.
Interestingly, the number of drug abuse cases in J&K has surpassed those in Punjab, according to a recent study by the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS), Srinagar, which was conducted long before the Government released the statistics. Although the alarm bells had already rung, the extent of drug abuse grew exponentially over time, underscoring the failure of the authorities to break the drug supply chain on the ground, facilitating the growth of drug dealers because, on the ground, nothing has changed at all. If the government is worried about it and wants to address the rise and threat of substance addiction, it must act quickly and without further delay. The causes are well known—to common people, officials, experts, and those who make decisions—but the moment has come to deal with them definitively.
The first move should be to strengthen law enforcement, along with efforts to identify the underlying causes of the rise in drug abuse in J&K. A crackdown on drug traffickers and dealers is required, and it must be ensured that the drug supply chain is entirely destroyed and that those responsible for managing it are prosecuted under strict laws that have already been drafted. To lower poverty and unemployment, the government should also invest in delivering better public services, such as healthcare, education, and employment chances. The victims of substance abuse must also be treated with greater consideration, and attempts must be made to assist them with counselling and rehabilitation. The position J&K is in requires a multifaceted response, and the government must not hesitate to take on the necessary responsibilities and show that it cares and wants to set things right.
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