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Combating Drug Addiction Needs People’s Cooperation

Drug relapse is a common occurrence globally with only 20% of addicts staying clean after rehab and recovery
Last year, over 170 countries declared substance abuse as their first and major social problem. Last year, over 170 countries declared substance abuse as their first and major social problem.

Community-centered programs are the best policy to fight drug addiction since the government cannot single-handedly shoulder the responsibility, says Interior Minister Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli.

Speaking at the first conference on public involvement in the fight against addiction attended by a number of artists, athletes and philanthropists on Feb. 11 in Tehran, he said “Special groups such as artists, athletes, the elite, philanthropists or people with social clout should conduct joint projects to help address the problem.” 

Statistical information is conflicting with some data indicating that there are 1.35 million drug addicts in the country, while others show a figure of two million. 

“Even taking the latter data into account, the rates of addiction in the country is still less by 50% compared with other countries” but there is no room for complacency, IRNA quoted him as saying.

The official said 750,000 addicts undergo rehabilitation each year. Among them, 80% refer to rehab centers voluntarily or are referred to by families or NGOs. The rest, who are mostly street addicts, are identified and rounded up by police and officials at the Iran Drug Control Headquarters (IDCH) as well as judicial authorities and sent to state rehab centers. 

“However, only between 10% and 15% stay clean after rehab and the rest return to substance abuse.” 

Drug relapse is a common occurrence globally with only 20% of addicts staying clean after rehab and recovery. Scientific studies show that the desire to use substances is between 40% and 60% stronger than that of eating when hungry. 

Rahmani Fazli said that poverty and unemployment cannot be considered the main causes for tendency to substance abuse as 50% of the addicts have a job and a regular income. 

“Substance abuse is becoming more prevalent among academic communities, which means that education doesn’t play a major role in discouraging or deterring addiction,” he said. 

In the previous year, street addicts in Tehran and a few other metropolises were rounded up by the IDCH. This resulted in a 40% decrease in the number of thefts. But around 64% of prisoners are directly or indirectly involved in the trade or use of narcotics. 

“Social harms, particularly addiction, cannot be addressed unless the public step in and help combat the problem.” 

  Substance Abuse Major Global Problem

Last year, over 170 countries declared substance abuse as their first and major social problem. 

Drug trade has a turnover of $1.5 trillion worldwide and traders earn some $650 billion from the business. 

“We must be alert because drug smugglers who make millions of dollars in profit will always find new ways,” to outsmart the anti-narcotics police, stressed the minister. 

In 2016, 4,800 tons of narcotics were discovered in Afghanistan alone with a 40% increase compared to the previous year. 

In Iran, around 635 tons of various substances have been discovered and confiscated so far in the current year that ends in March, a 14% increase which shows an improvement in the law enforcement operations. 

The drug problem in the country has assumed immense proportions affecting the poor as well as the rich, the employed and the jobless and even women (who constitute 10% of the addicts). An array of hard drugs including crystal meth, painkillers, synthetic hallucinogens, and heroin and opium (trafficked from neighboring Afghanistan), are available.

Easy availability of drugs is one reason for the problem. Iran lies on the main trafficking route for poppy, the source of opium and heroin, from Afghanistan the world’s biggest producer of illicit opium, to western Europe. 

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