Substance abuse or drug addiction is the prevalent problem in Pakistan and the report stats are alarming! Drug usage isn’t limited to a particular age group. No matter when it comes into your life, it creeps into every part and destroys you piece by piece. For the ‘liberals’ who argue that using drugs is one’s own free will and having basic free will is every humans right, let me remind them that substance abuse doesn’t just effect the person consuming it, it affect the people around them too. In a country with 39 percent poverty rate, the condition becomes more severe! Yes, I am talking about the elevating problem of drug addiction in Pakistan. Drug usage may directly or indirectly influence a person’s life negatively, it destroys families, can hurt people physically and emotional and ruins relationships.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reported that over 800,000 Pakistanis, between the ages of 15 and 64 are heroin addicts. According to the UNODC’s estimate, almost 44 tons of processed heroin is consumed every year in Pakistan, which is three times higher than the consumption rate in America. Survey findings show that cannabis is the most commonly used drug, with around 4 million users nationwide. It’s high time to realize that drug addiction in Pakistan is a prevalent problem!
Around 860,000 people used heroin regularly, approximately 19,000 people reported they had used methamphetamine and nearly 1.6 million people reported misuse of prescription opioids (painkillers) for non-medical use.
Why Do People Indulge In Addiction?
There are many reasons that lead to substance abuse across the globe along with the problem of drug addiction in Pakistan. Here are some of the top reasons people give for substance abuse:
- Curiosity (unfortunately this trumps the rest! Curiosity definitely gets the cat killed)
- Social and peer pressures
- Coping mechanism for loss or tragedy
- Work and Family stress
- Mental health
- Inferiority complex, low self-confidence and low self esteem
Re-read every reason stated above, and think hard, don’t we have an alternate solution for each cause mentioned above?
What Is The Production And Consumption Rate?
Pakistan is now one of the major exporters of heroin and has also become a net importer of drugs. Approximately 50 tons of opium is smuggled into Pakistan just to be processed into heroin that is consumed only domestically. Out of these 50 tons, approximately 80% comes from our neighboring countries. This can only be stopped with strict government policies being implemented.
With over 800,000 daily consumers of heroin, Pakistan has surpassed many countries when it comes to consumption rate. The problem of drug addiction in Pakistan is REAL! The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has only released figures of heroin usage; there are other drugs like weed, LSD, cocaine, Methadone, Ecstasy etc being used widely in Pakistan too.
There are other countries in South Asia that are battling drug dependency issues, like, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives; but the rate of consumption in Pakistan surpasses them all. This is why Pakistan is considered the largest and most growing market for drug smugglers and dealers.
As per the UN report, the total number of drug addicts in Pakistan is 7.6 million, out of which 78 percent are males and 22 percent are females. Unfortunately, the numbers of addicts are growing at the rate of 40,000 per year. This isn’t even the worst fact yet; majority of these addicts are below 24 years of age. Most of the youth, 3.6 percent to be exact, are avid cannabis users.
How Can Dependency On Drugs Be Combated?
While the government needs to take some serious measures to stop the smuggling of opium and other drugs in and out of Pakistan, as a nation we need to work hand in hand to fight this problem too.
- Parents need to be more vigilant to identify behavioral changes among their children.
- Schools and Universities need to keep an eye out for students consuming drugs in any form.
- We need more rehabilitation centers to combat addiction.
- Social awareness campaigns regarding the harmful effects of drug addiction need to be carried out country wide.
- Rehab and visiting a psychologist are considered taboo topics in Pakistan. We need to educate our people that it is okay to visit a psychologist and talk it out. We need to change our notions about mental health as this is another pressing issue that leads to substance abuse.
- Strict laws against usage or trade of any kind of drug need to be passed and implemented.
Drugs no matter what type are harmful to the consumers’ physical, mental and emotional health. They ruin relationships, dull the minds and in turn affect the country and its economy negatively. You are what you consume, so consume wisely. It is hard to cater the issue and introduce policies when the politicians are consuming alcohol and drugs rather than setting an ideal example to follow. Proper education regarding the issue and strict laws can help in dealing with the issue of elevating rate of drug addiction in Pakistan..