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The results of two national studies in 2004 and 2007 showed that the average age  of drug abuse is 22.5 years.
The results of two national studies in 2004 and 2007 showed that the average age  of drug abuse is 22.5 years.

Poor Data Impeding War on Drugs

Plans to control drug abuse cannot yield the desired results without reliable and detailed information
Some say the number of teenage abusers has increased due to their easy access to synthetic drugs in schools

Poor Data Impeding War on Drugs

In the absence of official data on age and substance abuse, experts and officials have made conflicting claims about how early people turn to narcotics in Iran.
Some have warned that the average age of addiction has declined and the youngest drug abusers are now between 13 and 15 years old whereas others dismiss the claim as invalid, maintaining that comprehensive studies are required to make an official announcement.  
Based on a recent report by Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters, the number of drug addicts between 15 and 65 years old stands at 2.8 million but there are no data on whether there has been a change in the number of young addicts.
A critic of drug control officials who did not want to be named told IRNA on Tuesday that the number of teenage abusers has increased due to their easy access to synthetic drugs in schools.
“The authorities’ failure to monitor schools’ surrounding areas has led to a reduction in the average age of drug abusers,” the source said.
Houman Narenjiha, former director of cultural affairs at the IDCHQ, has rejected the statement as a false claim that is intended to worsen a bad situation.
The results of two national studies in 2004 and 2007 showed that the average age of drug abuse is 22.5 years.
“It is impossible for the average age of drug users to drop to 13 in only 10 years as addiction is not a dynamic social phenomenon,” he said.
Many such comments, according to Narenjiha, stem from personal observations that lead people to make generalizations.
“A common mistake is to say that the age of addiction has declined only by seeing an 8-year-old or younger drug user,” he said.
To figure out the exact age pattern, the age of drug abusers today as well as their age when they developed their addiction must be derived, the former official said.
Pointing to the availability of drugs in schools, he optimistically said that Iranian schools are actually faring better compared with schools in other countries.
“Parents in many countries have trouble finding a drug-free school for their children but it is not so in Iran,” he said.
Majid Abhari, behavioral specialist, has stated that the minimum age of addiction is 14 years now.
“Early addiction to cigarettes and hookah and occasional use of herbal narcotics has given rise to a commonly-held belief that there’s been an increase in drug abuse among the youth,” he said.
Rumors about herbal drugs not being addictive has caused many young people to turn to them for pleasure.
He added that although the rate of drug addiction among younger people is worrying, it has not yet become a challenging issue.
Nevertheless, the bulk of the disagreement stems from the lack of solid data on the average age and minimum age of drug users.
Observers agree, however, that programs to control drug abuse cannot yield the desired results without reliable and detailed information about substance abuse and its impacts.

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