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Iranian authorities seize about 30% of the estimated 155 tons of heroin and opium entering the country each year.
Iranian authorities seize about 30% of the estimated 155 tons of heroin and opium entering the country each year.

Drug Addiction Eludes Solution

Despite the huge economic and human cost and the government’s efforts in actively fighting drug trafficking over the past three decades, the drug scourge remains a major public concern

Drug Addiction Eludes Solution

Despite advances in technology, science, economics, and social growth, the world is still struggling with, and unable to solve the worsening problems of, drug abuse.
Addiction, after poverty, population growth and environmental degradation is one of the issues causing serious concern for decades.
Keynote speakers at the 10th Annual International Addiction Science Congress that opened in Tehran on September 14 came clean about the government’s failure in the battle against narcotics.
Despite the time, money and energy spent to reduce and eliminate drug addiction, the country has failed to achieve the desired results, said the head of the State Welfare Organization on Wednesday.
“The prevention-treatment-rehabilitation cycle has not been functioning in a systematic and efficient manner,” Anoushiravan Mohseni Bandpei admitted on the opening day, khabaronline.ir reported.
Mohammad Taqi Joghataei, advisor to the health minister, also lamented the fact that dealing with the addiction problem is not a major concern for the government, and said “the issue does not seem to be a priority” for the SWO or the Health Ministry.
About 3% of the population in the 15-46 age group use some form of addictive substance or psychedelic. A recent survey by the Council for Fighting Drug Abuse, affiliated to the Tehran Municipality, indicates that people in the 17-25 age groups make up the largest group of drug abusers.
Iran is the main conduit for smuggling narcotics from Afghanistan and Pakistan to crime syndicates in Europe. Iranian authorities seize about 30% of the estimated 155 tons of heroin and opium entering the country each year largely destined for the lucrative markets in the West.
A 2015 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates the worth of heroin and opium smuggled from the world’s opium capital, Afghanistan, to western Europe at $28 billion annually.
Despite the huge economic and human cost and the government’s efforts in actively fighting drug trafficking over the past three decades, the drug scourge remains a major public concern.

  Prevention Better Than Cure
“The government has spent more than $700 million to seal the 900-km porous border with Afghanistan, and put an end to the war on drugs that has claimed the lives of nearly 4,000 law enforcement officers over the past 34 years and left over 12,000 injured,” deputy head of Iran Drug Control Headquarters (IDCH), Ali Moayedi, told the Tehran congress.
“According to a recent public survey on the public attitude towards the prevalence of drugs in the country, 92% of those polled said the addiction rate is mounting and cause for very serious concern.”
Moayedi also noted that the global approach toward addiction has been preventive for the most part of the past century and called for overhauling the failed policies and practices and prioritizing prevention rather than cure.
“Drug addiction is seen in all social strata and affects people regardless of their age, sex, social class and level of education,” he rued.
Minister of Labor, Cooperatives, and Social Welfare Ali Rabiei singled out mental disorders and the gap between people’s high expectations and the reality of life as the most important reasons behind the worsening drug and related problems.
“We need to accept that addiction is a sickness, and take into consideration various biological and environmental factors that affect an addict,” said Deputy Health Minister Reza Malekzadeh.

  Disconcerting Figures
According to official Tehran Municipality data, drug abuse prevalence rate has reached 1.2% in schools in the province, which means one in every 100 students is a regular drug abuser. About 130,000 students across the country have used illegal substances at least once during their lifetime and many are regular users.  
According to figures released by the IDCH about 60% of university students who are addicted to illicit drugs started using it from school age.  In 2011, about 1.1% of school-age students reported they had used ecstasy pills.
Also 0.4% of them reported crystal amphetamine consumption at least once (most of them were between 16 and 17 years). Women comprise 10% of the two million total drug addicts.
The next five-year economic development plan (2016-2021) envisages reduction in the number of drug addicts by 25%, by the end of the plan period. But achieving this ambitious goal is a different story.
The major focus at the conference included preventive strategies, sexual behavior of drug abusers, addiction nursing, social work in addiction treatment, alcohol abuse and its side effects, addiction among adolescents and young adults, addiction in women, harm reduction, as well as demand reduction programs and policies.
This year’s meeting ‘Towards Transdisciplinary Research in Addiction Science’, concluded on Friday at Razi International Conference Hall affiliated to and located at the Iran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran.

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