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The rising toll of drug addicts

by Sarah Alam, Pakistan

Please stay away from drugs

One social problem that recently came to the fore relates to the consumption of drugs by the youth of the whole world. The number of drug abusers in Pakistan is rising by an alarming seven per cent a year. There are approximately five million drug abusers - 1.5 million of whom are heroin addicts - in the country and between 25 to 30 million people whose lives are adversely affected by the addiction of their relatives. Peer pressure at school, societal taboos, economic frustrations and lack of healthy recreational outlets are among the major reasons why people, especially the youth, are succumbing to the lure of addictive drugs. Oddly enough, it has been observed that the following two drugs are largely used: heroin and hashish.

Heroin addiction has penetrated all social classes and is now all-pervasive. The country has drug dens - places where people smoke hashish, heroin and other drugs.

Almost 60% of the total population of Pakistan is involved in drug addiction. The number, which is rising alarmingly, includes those addicted to all forms of contraband drugs, alcohol, tranquilizers and anti-depressants. Almost all sections of the society have fallen victims to this evil. The educated class, which is perceived to be aware of the ill-effects of the drugs is the worstly affected. According to researches, 60 per cent of the total addicts in the country are literate and employed. With regard to the occupational categorization of drug addicts, the ratio is: labour class 53.3 per cent, sales persons 14.1 per cent, agriculture workers 10.9 per cent and students 11.4 per cent. Punjab is the worst hit province having 45 per cent of the total four million addicts. More the 71 per cent of the addicts are between 25 and 30 years.

According the gender classification almost 90% of drug addicts are male whereas 10% comprise of the female lot.

Heroin, the most popular addiction, is used by around 51 per cent addicts, followed by hashish which is consumed by 29.5 per cent. Other addictions are charas, opium, alcohol, cocaine, and tranquilizers under the names of Valium, Librium, Ativan, Diazepam and injections.

A vast majority of the new addicts belong to the younger generation who are hooked on narcotics through their friends, casual acquaintances, drug pushers and, sometimes, family members.

It is our responsibility to help those who fall prey to this menace. We as a society owe the responsibility of not only getting the addicts treated at hospitals but also to rehabilitate them as respectable citizens. This is necessary because the addicts can again switch over to drugs after treatment if the society neglects them.

"The drug addiction is a psycho disorder and not a psycho-physical disease. It demands healing and restoration through medicine and psycho-therapy".

We need to create public awareness about the medical and social hazards of heroin addiction to warn the youth against experimenting with drugs and prevent people from turning to the intoxication of heroin to drown their sorrows.

It's not just a matter of Pakistan but this is a problem in the whole world. To overcome this problem one key element is spreading awareness for heroine leads to tuberculosis and the injectable drugs may give rise to diseases like HIV and Hepatitis-C.

The youth needs to be careful in making friends. Sometimes friends might lead you to drug addiction. If you have a friend who is a drug addict or a smoker try to convince him/her to leave drugs or smoking (for smoking leads to drugs). If you fail do not continue your friendship with him/her. For once, you get addicted to drugs it is very difficult to get away with it. You might get another good friend again but you will not be able to have another life.

So my request to the fellow youth is that please stay away from drugs, if not for your sake but for the sake of the ones who love you.

The figures have been provided to me by "Friendly Anti Narcotics Organisation Sindh"

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Reconstruction: July-August-September 2002

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