Kashmir saw surge in intravenous opioid users during Covid-19
The use of intravenous opioids in Kashmir surged among youth during the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to relapse in many patients due to non-adherence to proper medication, a study revealed
The use of intravenous opioids in Kashmir surged among the youth during the Covid-19 pandemic, leading to relapse in many patients due to non-adherence to proper medication, a recent study revealed.
The study, conducted by the Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (IMHANS) Srinagar, found that many patients relapsed due to non-adherence to medications during Covid-19 when most of the drug de-addiction centers were closed.
“Our findings reflected a pattern of increased substance use behaviors resulting from peer pressure, emotional distress, boredom, and financial issues resulting from the implemented lockdown, disrupting regular routines. It was also seen that the distress level in these patients was high, causing them to indulge more in substance use,” read the study.
“There was a parallel epidemic of addiction along with the Covid-19 pandemic in Kashmir. There is mortality related to addiction like Covid-19,” said Yasir Rather, in-charge of De-addiction Center Department of Psychiatry, IMHANS.
Rather said that his team initially found more patients coming in for treatment due to the shortage of drugs during the Covid-19 lockdown. However, during the latter part of the lockdown, as things started to ease up, the drug supply channel started to open up again, and there were new users of drugs.
“While many patients were those who already used to come to us for treatment, many were new drug users who were mostly school and college going students facing boredom and social isolation at home,” he said.
During reasearch, the doctors found a pattern of hardcore drugs among the patients including heroin. The alarming trend, however, was the usage of intravenous (IV) drugs.
Heroin was the most commonly used opioid (94.12 per cent) compared to pharmaceutical opioids (5.88 per cent).
As per the study, the primary substance of use was opioids (87.6 per cent), with heroin (75.8 per cent) being the predominant drug of use, followed by medicinal opioids (11.8 per cent). The most common mode of opioid use was intravenous (54.5 per cent).
Out of the participants, 61.8 per cent initiated substance use during the Covid-19 lockdown.
“While earlier they used drugs through oral inhalation, this time IV had increased as with oral inhalation these people would require more quantity of heroin to get high,” Rather said, adding, “With IV, however, less is more.”
The increase in IV drugs led to a surge in Hepatitis C cases amongst these patients due to sharing needles, Rather said.
“The policymakers must make adequate intervention plan for this health crisis,” the study concluded.