Despite being happily married and having a good job, 35-year-old Rahim (name changed) felt like something was missing in his life. That’s when his friend suggested he try something that would help him relax. His friend had recently started using drugs and claimed it helped him escape the stress and monotony of everyday life.
Rahim was hesitant at first, but eventually gave in to the temptation. He reasoned that just a little bit would not hurt, and before he knew it, he was hooked. As weeks went by, Rahim found himself relying on drugs more and more to get through the day. His work and marriage suffered as a result.
But Rahim is not alone in his struggle. A shocking 34 percent of the drug addicts in Kashmir are married people, reveals a study ‘Prevalence and Pattern of Substance Use in 10 districts of Kashmir: A 2022 survey’ conducted by IMHANS-K.
Many of them, like Rahim, turned to drugs as a way to cope with the pressures of daily life. As per the study, 61.70 percent unmarried people are into drugs in Kashmir and 33.50 percent married people are taking different substances.
Besides that, one percent divorced, 0.10 percent widowed, and 0.40 percent people are also addicted to drugs. Dr Yasir Hassan Rather of the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) told KIF that they were witnessing an increase in couples using substance use. “Earlier marriage was a construct that used to curb the use of substances but nowadays partners are also getting involved into it,” he said.
On why married people were into drug addiction, Dr Rather said that common reasons were normalising the use of substances. “These people are not considering it dangerous for health and are seeing it as a mode of recreation,” he said.
Dr Rather agreed that sometimes societal pressures and other issues become stressors and to cope with them people consume drugs. “Personality of a person plays a major role in it and easy availability of substances is another reason,” he said.
Dr Rather said that in many cases men were involved in substances and they eventually got their partners involved in it. Dr Arshad Hussain of the IMHANS told KIF that married people taking drugs had a huge implication on the social fabric of the society. “Worry is not that the predominance of patients in the survey are unmarried, the notable thing is that a large proportion of patients are married which has huge implications on the social fabric,” he said.
Dr Hussain said this leads to dysfunctional families causing abuse, violence, and traumatic experiences within the families. “All these things have negative impacts which are beyond repair for children and hence challenging our societal future itself,” he said.
Kashmir has around 70,000 substance users, and 52,000 people are using IV Heroin.