Drug addiction or drug abuse has now become a major social problem in Pakistani society. Health damaging drugs and abusive substances are available everywhere in society. Illegal trafficking of drugs is accelerating these days. According to UNDOC (United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime) annual survey of Pakistan 2013, an estimate of 6% of Pakistani population uses illicit drug addicts. The commonly used drugs include Cannabis, Opium, Heroine, Hashish, Marijuana, Coca-Leaf, and Ice-Crystals.

The International Day against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking is celebrated annually by the United Nations worldwide on 26th June. The celebration was initiated by General Assembly resolution on December 1987. The Theme for 2018 is “Listen First- Listening to Children and Youth is the first step to help them grow healthy and safe”. It is an initiative to increase Psycho-Social support for prevention of Drug addiction.

Drug Addiction is defined as a chronic brain disease, characterized by Compulsive drug seeking and usage, despite its harmful consequences. These drugs change the brain structure and it’s functioning, resulting in abnormal behavior and other adverse effects. Addiction impairs a person’s judgment, physiological independence, and emotional well-being. Drug Addiction is a preventable and treatable disease but if left untreated, it can give rise to lifetime complications and consequences.

There are many causes of drug addiction are observed in the society. The social causes include drugs used by parents, exposure by peers, family & marital problems and easy access in the community. The Psychological causes include poor family environment, strict & punitive parents, personality problem and exposure to trauma or injury. Sometimes, drugs are taken to win the competition or increase the physiological performance in any activity. Drug Addiction can have long-term adverse effects on the health of an individual that may include increased heart rate & blood pressure, paranoid behavior or hallucinations, drowsiness or dizziness, hepatitis or AIDS, clinical depression, liver, lung, and kidney impairment and may result into sudden death.

Can drug addiction be treated? Yes, but it’s not simple. Because addiction is a chronic disease. People can’t simply stop using drugs for a few days and be cured. Most patients need long-term or repeated care to stop using completely and recover their lives. There are various evidence-based approaches to treating addiction. Drug treatment can include behavioral therapy (such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or contingency management), medications, or their combination. The specific type of treatment or combination of treatments will vary depending on the patient’s individual needs and often, on the types of drugs they use. There are various rehabilitation centers working in Pakistani society but results are not so good. We need to work more to tackle this problem.

A large number of drug abusers belong to the youth of Pakistan. The increased availability and exposure of drugs and abusive substance in schools, colleges, and tertiary institutes lead to an alarming situation. A large number of youth is becoming a victim of these abusive substances. Therefore, it is need of the hour to protect our youth and coming generations to save the future of Pakistan.

Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) was raised in 1995 to address the problem of illicit trafficking of drugs and abusive substance. By realizing the importance of this problem, the Ministry of Narcotics Control (MNC) was established in Aug 2017. ANF and MNC are working in coordination with other law enforcement agencies.  

To reduce its social & communal causes, the youth organizations and NGOs have to conduct various advocacy sessions and workshops. Positive Pakistan, the largest youth organization of Pakistan aims to spread awareness among youth about this serious by organizing different workshops and intellectual forums in Pakistan.

Contributed by: Abdul Bari Mission Holder Positive Pakistan

(The author is Islamabad-based clinical psychologist,social-media activist and a blogger.)