According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Pakistan has more than four million drug addicts and the number of addicts is rising by the day. In Pakistan, drugs are cheap and readily available, mostly because of the booming drug trade and a steady stream of heroin entering the country from neighboring Afghanistan. As a result, Pakistan is the most addicted, per capita, country in the world.
According to Al Jazeera, many Pakistani youth are addicted to hard drugs by the time they are barely in their teens. Youth frequently start with hash and inhalants when they are as young as nine years old, and sometimes even younger. Quitting is extremely difficult, even for people with a strong desire to stop using, because the drugs are so pervasive.
In Pakistan, drug addiction is a complex problem with no easy answers. However, Mujataba Shuja ur Rehman, Lahore’s Provincial Minister for Excise and Taxation, recently announced a comprehensive anti-drug addiction program that includes development of a large number of rehab centers for addicts, especially for women and children. The goal of the rehab centers is to provide services that empower people to change their lives. Rehab includes identification and registration of addicts, education, treatment and an aftercare program that helps addicts remain drug-free.
The ambitious anti-addiction program also includes public information, increased awareness and prevention education, as well as implementation and enforcement of a set of strict anti-narcotics laws.
The human cost of Pakistan’s growing drug addiction problem is extreme and includes social issues such as breakdown of families, poverty and crime, as well as a heightened risk of disease and infection due to shared needles, including HIV and AIDS. Many people are unaware of the risks. Rehabilitation clinics offer hope to the country’s many addicts.
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