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Failed love affair to peer pressure: How Kashmir women are increasingly falling into vortex of drug abuse


Srinagar: Rifat and Saleem  (name changed) were into drugs before marriage. When Rifat conceived she decided to do away with her addiction and focus on her baby.

 “When she came to know about her pregnancy she decided to stop taking drugs for the sake of her child,” said her doctor.

The resistance couldn’t last long and she started doing drugs even in her pregnancy too. “She was using heroin. She tried to avoid it but faced withdrawal symptoms. So she continued it again in her pregnancy,” said her doctor.

The couple’s refusal to seek help not only exacerbated their pain but also condemned their innocent kid to a life scarred by the consequences of their addiction.

 “After her delivery, withdrawal symptoms were also noticed in the infant. Therefore the baby was admitted to the ICU. They were seeking therapy. One fine day they suddenly stopped coming,” said her doctor.

A 2023 study conducted by IMHANS revealed that the institute received 150 drug addiction cases per day. It also found that over 33000 syringes are being used daily for heroin injections.

Dr. Abrar, Consultant Psychiatrist at IMHANS told The Kashmir Monitor that the number of women drug addicts is less than men but it’s not negligible. “In government hospitals, not many women come for treatment since there is a social stigma attached to it. They fear someone may recognize them, which can traumatize them. Instead, they prefer private clinics,” he said.

Dr Abrar said most of the cases have taken to drugs due to peer pressure, failed love affairs, stress, and family troubles

“People become involved with a variety of drugs, the most harmful of which is heroin. Heroin withdrawals are exceedingly harsh. To control the withdrawals, addicts continue to take it, which damages them both physically and financially,” he said.

Souliha Khan, managing director of Grooming Kashmir, a rehabilitation center, told The Kashmir Monitor that the number of female drug users is higher than the known figure. 

“Boys and girls face the same social stigma, but girls do not receive as much family support as boys do. The majority of the girls are unable to seek help owing to the social stigma. The girl’s life and reputation get badly damaged. Despite receiving treatment, she does not receive a suitable marriage proposal. People do not perceive them as patients but as criminals. They place drug dealers and victims in the same group,” she said.

 She said peer pressure and the easy accessibility of drugs perpetuate the problem. Khan emphasized the need for a supportive environment where individuals feel empowered to confront their addiction and seek help without fear of judgment or condemnation.