Large Increase in Drug Seizures

The amount of crystal meth seized has decreased by 5% which suggests a change in the pattern of drug use.
The amount of crystal meth seized has decreased by 5% which suggests a change in the pattern of drug use.

A 13% hike in drug seizures was reported by Iran’s anti-narcotics police in the first nine months of the current fiscal that ends in March, compared to the same period last year when illicit drugs seized reached 477 tons.

In the current year, 538 tons of various types of illegal drugs were seized of which, 78.9% was opium, 15.8% hash, 2.9% heroin, 1.7% morphine, 0.7% was other illicit drugs and 0.3%, crystal meth, IRNA reported.

The amount of seized opium and hash increased by 16% and 20% compared to  last year, Parviz Afshar, spokesman of Iran Drug Control Headquarters (IDCH), told a press conference on Monday.

Also, 15.3 tons of illegal drugs in the “heroin group” including heroin, crack and crystal meth were seized, a 26% increase compared to the same period last year.

“The amount of crystal meth seized (1.4 tons) however had decreased by 5% which suggests a change in the pattern of drug use,” he said.

The biggest hauls were in four provinces: Sistan-Baluchestan, Kerman, Fars and Hormozgan.

“During the past decades, the average age for first time use of drugs was 22 to 24 years as per the admission registers at substance abuse treatment facilities. Our recent studies show the figure still remains the same, which means the age at first use of illicit drugs has not changed.”

Meanwhile, the average age for industrial drug abuse has decreased considerably. “Unlike traditional drugs like opium, industrial drugs don’t show early symptoms of addiction; but their long term effects are more destructive  than traditional drugs,” Afshar said.

  Change in Drug Use Pattern

The change in the pattern of drug use with a preference for industrial drugs has made fighting the menace more challenging.

Around 5% to 7% of addicts use two or more kinds of drugs at the same time. The rate of meth abuse has also increased from 3% in 2011 to 26% in 2016. “However, this year more people have turned to hash drugs instead of meth,” he noted.

There are currently 60,000 homeless addicts in the country who constitute 5% of all drug addicts numbering over 2 million. Also, there are 16,000 homeless addicts in Tehran alone.

During the first nine months of the current year, more than 1,500 homeless addicts were rounded up and admitted to 24 rehab centers in the capital.

Drug abuse is the primary cause of 80% of sexual assaults, 62% of street brawls, 50% of divorces, 50% of spouse abuse cases, 42% of murders, and 34% of child abuse in the country.

  Drug Tendencies

Research conducted recently by the IDCH shows that 28% of Iranians aged 15 to 64 showed an inclination for illegal drugs as they believed that “drugs such as crystal meth can help concentration, and be used as a study aid,” according to Hamid Sarami, the IDCH deputy of research and training.

The study which surveyed people randomly also indicated that “17% had a strong tendency to try illegal drugs themselves,” reported.

Sarami added that 69% of the respondents were ready to contribute their share in fighting the problem of drug addiction. The study also suggested that prevalence rate of drug abuse is the highest among young adults between the ages 21 and 24.

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