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SRINAGAR: Drug abuse, known to be widespread among youth in Kashmir Valley, is now showing a new trend whereby teenage girls are increasingly turning into addicts. College-going girls and boys are abusing substances, especially toluene, a common thinner, is testified to by officials at the de-addiction centre in Srinagar. Sources told Press Trust of Kashmir that students abuse or ‘glue sniffing’ has become widespread because the chemical is readily found in narcotics, brown sugar, Naas, alcohol, cannabis (charas), opiates (like codeine, heroin, morphine), benzodiazepines (sleeping pills, like alprax, valium), Inhalants (like Fevicol SR, glue, paint thinner, petrol, shoe polish etc.) and so on are frequently used by most of the young youths of Kashmir valley at an alarming rate. The abuse of toluene is getting very common in Kashmir because it is easily available. 

According to a survey conducted by United Nations Drug Control Programme (UNDCP), there are seventy thousand drug addicts in Kashmir division alone including four thousand girls. In this Jannat (paradise), the survey also revealed that 65% to 70% students, both male and female, are drug addicts. As per the government psychiatric disease hospital statistics , 90% abusers belong to the age group of 16 to 27 years with a lifetime prevalence of drug addiction. So the situation is worrying and alarming. 

Sources further said that getting other drugs is a bit more difficult for girls than buying ink remover or polish. When Press Trust of Kashmir talks with doctors they said that the major causes for drug addiction among girls are study pressure, stress, family disputes, failure in life, examination stress, love affairs. Sources further said that due to lack of facilities, social stigma restricts women from seeking rehabilitation or treatment. 

While talking to PTK some girl students said that it’s important to keep it in view that the social stigma which female drug addicts face, it is important to set up a de-addiction centre for girl students. One of the girl (name changed) Asma while taking to Press Trust of Kashmir said that she began with glue sniffing “for fun” during her school days and then moved on to opiates. Fear of social stigma and lack of facilities in Kashmir Asma’s parents to take her outside Kashmir for treatment.  She said that “now I am fine after the treatment of 11 months I am okay”.

 Sources said that the health department does not maintain data on the status of drug addiction in Kashmir. Uzma one of the medical students said that youth on drugs may physically live in the same house with their families, but live alone emotionally. She added that they do not care about what happens to their near ones and these insensitivities extend towards society. Sources confirmed that no survey has since been undertaken in the health department. Sources further added that in 2003 health department decided to look into this matter and take a survey but they failed to do that and so far no survey has since undertaken by department.