For the past one year, 16 year old Faizan (name changed), a 10th grade student has been smoking cannabis with his friends, all in their teens, at his village in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district.
His habit was triggered by peer pressure after he saw his friends mixing cannabis with cheap cigarettes and then puffing them.
After one year into addiction, his parents felt Faizan’s habits change, his body grow weak and his chubby, whitish face turn dark. They checked him into the Drug De-addiction Centre in Srinagar, run by the State Police which was started in 2008 in an effort to lessen crimes after police established increasing links between crime and drug addiction.
Fifteen days at the centre, Faizan is checked and counseled regularly by the centre’s clinical psychologist Dr Muzaffar Khan.
Besides Faizan, Dr. Khan is trying to rehabilitate other five youth who have been taking drugs varying from cannabis, sleeping pills and pain killers, particularly codeine-phosphate, spasmoproxyvon and alprazolam.
The six patients being counseled by Dr Khan revealed they would get these drugs from the ghost markets run by peddler-addict nexus across the Valley, and not from the chemist shops.
But, says Dr Khan, the addicts discovered the hidden, profitable markets in the Valley which are spreading drug addiction among the youth. “Once a youth becomes an addict, he subsequently becomes a peddler because he has to generate money to buy drugs for him. And thus the nexus spreads it tentacles luring more into the menace. But only those are accommodated who are trusted by their peers,” he says.
The patients, who are primarily peddlers and have sought rehabilitation, have revealed to Dr Khan that they bought drug cartons, especially spasmoproxvon, from Bhagirath Palace in New Delhi and managed to bring them through regular trucks to the ‘fixers’, who then sell them in the target market in Kashmir.
These ‘fixers’ sell them to barber shops run by non-locals who know their “trusted customers”, and to vendors, themselves addicts-and-peddlers, and others. This way the drugs are supplied to entire Valley.