Of Valley and its unnoticed female drug Addicts
Srinagar, Indian Occupied Kashmir: At a place where smoking and drugs were considered taboo once upon a time, the number of female drug addicts, especially young teenage girls, has considerably risen in recent years. In Kashmir, where a woman resorting to drugs was previously unheard of, reports now claim that out of the total 200,000 drug abusers in the valley, more than 4,000 are women.
Mahreen (name changed), a college student, has been an addict for three years now. Mahreen says that she started off with sedatives to relieve herself of daily anxiety. The habit of popping a pill every night resulted in other forms of drug abuse, including opiate preparations. Mahreen confesses that she discreetly smokes and sometimes drinks. Only two of her close friends, who are also drug addicts, know about her drug use.
“Shikara is where I, along with my other two friends, smoke freely without letting anyone know about it. It is one of the few places that takes us away from the prying eyes of people. Sometimes, we have beer also,” said 19-year-old Mahreen.
Like Mahreen, a rising number of females, primarily young girls, are seen resorting to drugs as the menace remains relatively unchecked at large. The absence of formal counseling and psychiatric help at the school and college levels is regarded as the basic cause of drug addiction among youth in the valley.
Dr. Mushtaq Margoob, a prominent psychiatrist of the valley, says the number of female drug addicts may not be on the rise, but the situation is as it was a couple of years ago. He says this is due to the unchecked authority system, vulnerability, and an inability to cope in drug abusers.
“When a thing that needs to be addressed is ignored and not monitored, the problem will obviously become aggravated. It is the same case with female drug addicts; the situation is going from bad to worse. The reason is because it is not checked in our society,” said Dr. Margoob.
“The positive thing that has happened in this regard is the recent control in the free availability of psychotropic medicinal preparations in the market,” added Dr. Margoob.
However, the control of the sale of medicinal drugs has caused an increasing number of addicts to resort to alternate forms of drug abuse. Substance abuse, which is an age-specific form of drug abuse, is increasingly becoming a familiar phenomenon among young valley girls. Toluene, commonly known as ‘sniffing glue,’ is one of the substances that is widely abused in the valley. With females having less access to drugs and sedatives as compared to males, substances such as sniffing glue are found to be more popular among valley girls.
Dr. Margoob calls the trend of substance abuse among teenage girls a ‘cry for help.’ “The use of some substance such as ‘fluid eraser’ for losing consciousness is mostly age-specific. It is prevalent among teenagers and it can lead to other [more serious] forms of addiction. If a person uses a substance for which it is not made, it speaks volumes about the vulnerability of that individual. Such a situation should never be ignored. People in our society should get educated and empowered in this regard. If you see such a case in your family or in your neighborhood, do not ignore it, instead help the victim,” said Dr. Margoob.
Incidentally, depression, stress, examination stress, family disputes, problems related to personal lives and psychiatric disorders are said to be the main reasons behind the increase in the number of drug abuse cases among women in Kashmir.
Dr. Arshid Hussain, Associate Professor at the Government Psychiatric Hospital says that the reason varies and depends on the individual. As per Dr. Hussain, there are myriad reasons behind drug addiction among males, but there is only a single factor that leads women towards drug addiction. “There are a number of reasons why a man takes to drugs, but when it comes to women, there is only a single factor that is responsible. The presence of multiple psychosocial stressors in their lives regarding family issues, social issues, and personal issues is the only factor responsible for drug addiction among females,” said Dr. Hussain.