Drug abuse taking heavy toll of Pakistani youth

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ISLAMABAD: Drug abuse is taking a heavy toll on the youth in Pakistan, especially students, and fuelling a life of addiction and crime, the country’s Anti-Narcotics Force has said. Children as young as 9-12 have already started consuming tobacco and some as young as 13 and 14 are said to be turning to drugs, Dunya News reported citing the ANF.

The addiction starts off as an experimental thing, and in most cases turns into a dangerous habit. The young persons do not realise in the early stages that it could turn into an addiction, and when they do realise it is too late to kick the habit, the ANF said.

The drug problem in Pakistan is getting extremely serious, with drug usage reported as being at twice of the world norm. In December last year, State Minister of Interior Shahryar Afridi had said a survey has shown that a large of students in the Pakistani capital take crystal meth.

Crystal methamphetamine, also called ice, is a drug which consists of colourless crystals of varying sizes and shapes that are used through smoking, and injecting into one’s body.

Speaking at a drug awareness event, Afridi said that 75% of female students and 45% of male students, including from well-known educational institutions, have been found to be taking the drug. According to the ANF, cannabis has remained very popular among drug users across Karachi making it the second largest city for consuming the drug in the world.

The drug scene in various parts of Pakistan is getting complex and fluid. Till some years ago, policy makers in Pakistan were concerned about the consumption of mild stimulants by students and out-of-school youth to stay alert and to boost energy, and the use of cannabis and excessive alcohol consumption. By 2010 the situation changed dramatically with the arrival of cocaine and heroin in the region. These drugs were brought into the region from producing countries and primarily meant for export to large consuming nations in Asia.

The situation is grave not only in Islamabad and Karachi but almost every part of Pakistan, it said.

The major factors behind the increasing rate in drug trafficking into Pakistan are refugees from Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the world’s leading producer of cannabis and different types of other substances. There are hundreds of refining labs in Afghanistan, many right along the Pakistan-Afghan border, turning substances into heroin. Cannabis and heroin flow from Afghanistan to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan from various illegal channels, especially through illegal border crossings. From there these drugs are supplied to different areas of Pakistan by rail, air, and truck, it said.

There are very little treatment options for drug abusers in Pakistan. Those that do exist have come under harsh criticism from advocacy groups including, Human Rights Organisations. State-run centres may appear more like a jail, offer very little, and consist of heavy detoxification, medications, and basic therapies, it said, and urged citizens to come together to combat the menace. (ANI)