Drug Addicts Cost Treasury $13b p.a.

It is believed that addicts in Iran annually spend $5.2 billion on illicit drugs.It is believed that addicts in Iran annually spend $5.2 billion on illicit drugs.

The increasing population of drug addicts imposes a financial burden of 500 trillion rials ($13.2 billion) on the treasury every year, according to the head of the Drug Demand Reduction Working Group at the Expediency Council.

“It is believed that addicts annually spend 200 trillion rials ($5.2 billion) on illicit drugs,” Saeed Sefatian was quoted by ISNA as saying.

Based on a recent survey, 17% of Iranians have a tendency to experiment with drugs.”From among them 12% are at high risk of addiction if nothing is done to control the problem,” he added.

According to official figures, there are at least 2.8 million drug addicts in Iran and the Law Enforcement Forces said recently there are between 220,000 to 250,000 people involved in drug smuggling.

Each year around 600-700 tons of illegal substances are seized by the LEF. Also, around 500,000-700,000 people annually receive rehab services.

Some programs are being implemented in schools to help prevent and control drug abuse. However, “the high prevalence of drug abuse indicates such programs have not produced the desired results.”

Sefatian pointed to a bill that was approved by the Majlis Judicial and Legal Commission earlier this week, which has been touted by proponent as an effective strategy to fight narcotics smuggling into the country.

Parents and social scientists have long appealed for aggressive and comprehensive approaches to fighting opiate addiction and recue demand for the killer drugs. Successive governments over the past four decades have tested various ways to reverse the dangerous trend but to no avail as an increasing number of youth fall prey to the drug trade almost always run by crime syndicates in and outside the country.

“Under the plan, which has been developed by Iran Drug Control Headquarters, (diluted) opium will be distributed by the government to addicts above the age of 50,” the senior official said.

Many studies have shown that the odds of quitting illicit drugs get worse over time and therefore people above the age of 50 are less likely to kick the habit.

Safatian said the plan was drafted several years ago and is not new, but “little headway was made during the previous two administrations.”

The only opiate which is distributed by the government to addicts is methadone, he said. “Methadone is distributed by the state methadone maintenance therapy (MMT) centers to addicts as an alternative to the drug on which the patient is dependent,” he said.

Permits for MMT centers are issued by the government-funded Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences in Tehran, which also provides bottles of methadone to MMT centers to be sold to those in need.

The methadone maintenance therapy plan was approved in 2003.


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