One out of every 10 students is a drug addict
Islamabad, June 26: Drug abuse is rapidly growing in Pakistan, especially amongst youth in colleges and universities, resulting in serious social and health implications.
Almost five per cent (five million) of adult population in the country is using drugs and its use is growing at an annual rate of seven per cent, while according to estimates, one out of every 10 college/university students in Pakistan is a drug addict.
According to a National Assessment study on Drug Abuse in Pakistan, there are estimated 500,000 heroin users and 125,000 injecting drug users in the country and the number of latter has doubled since 2000, which is alarming. Over 40,000 street children are involved in solvent substance abuse in merely four major cities of the country namely Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, the study reveals.
"Over the last 20 years, the increasing number of drug addicts has brought a bad name to the country and today, Pakistan is highly notorious for the phenomenon," said Head of Community Medicine at Islamabad Medical & Dental College, Islamabad Prof Dr Muhammad Ashraf Chaudhry, in connection with the United Nations International Day Against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking that is observed on June 26 each year around the globe.
The United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime (UNODC) leads the international awareness raising campaign of the major problems that illicit drugs represent to society and especially to young people. "The theme of this year, the same as of 2007 and 2008, 'Do Drugs Control Your Life? Your life. Your community. No place for drugs' communicates that the destructive effects of illicit drugs concern us all," said Dr Ashraf. According to UNODC, nearly 200 million people worldwide are using illicit drugs such as cocaine, cannabis, hallucinogens, opiates and sedative hypnotics.
The world of drug addicts is also getting bigger in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. According to an estimate, the peddling of narcotics is going on at more than 80 points in Rawalpindi city without any check. At these points, hashish, charas, opium, heroin and morphine is being sold by both male and female agents. "Most of the male agents are kiosk owners, vendors, vegetable sellers, beggars, automobile mechanics and shopkeepers, but they actually sell narcotics to their clients," said Dr Ashraf.
The main drug-peddling points are located in areas of Raja Bazaar, Banni, Pirwadhai, Sadiqabad and Chaklala Scheme III. Cannabis (hashish) is the cheapest of all narcotics and easily available in the twin cities at the rate of Rs20,000 per kilogram while heroin - a highly addictive substance - is available for Rs100 per dose.
"Drug addicts are mostly found busy in their activities in extremely unhygienic areas, especially near nullahs and shrines, bus stops and railway stations," said Dr Ashraf adding that covered in ragged clothes with untrimmed hair and bearded faces, drug users spend days under the sky without having any meal.
To a query, Dr Ashraf said often the narcotic substance is linked to factors such as risk taking behaviours that might involve experimenting with narcotics, smoking and alcohol, social isolation, the need to cope with unfamiliar and stressful situations, peer pressure (bad company), unemployment, excessive pocket money by parents and lack of supervision, the desire for social acceptance, boredom, curiosity, just to feel good, weak religious beliefs and a lot of free time at their disposal.
"While some of the physical effects of drugs may sound nice, they do not last long. Many people get depressed and start feeling sick shortly after being on drugs, while the physical and sexual health of addicts weaken so rapidly that a young man in his 30s looks like an old man of over 60 when on drugs," he added.
Drug abuse causes not only the economic breakdown of a family but also the loss of self-confidence and will on part of the addict along with the loss of job, indulgence in crimes such as theft, and suicidal thoughts. Drug addicts are also more prone to accidents and are at higher risk of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B & C and tuberculosis. Married drug addicts have a high probability of having mentally retarded and physically handicapped children, said Dr Ashraf.
Talking about the preventive measures of drug use, he said parents could recognise addiction in their children by noting some of the symptoms including deep body emaciation, loss of appetite, difficulty in breathing and fatigue, strong nervous disturbance, prolonged home absences, much money demand, lying to get money, remaining isolated, long sleep periods, laziness, pale face, tremors in fingers, constipation, irregularities in work and studies, and marks and traces of abuse on the body. "Parents after witnessing even a few of the above symptoms in their child should immediately get him/her examined," advised Dr Ashraf.
An addict is a sick person and needs humanistic treatment that comprises three stages - assessment, detoxification and rehabilitation. The most difficult part of the treatment is rehabilitation in which there is a need to motivate a patient to take up any healthy activity preferably away from old places and old company. "No one should be stigmatised because of his dependence on drugs," he said.
For the prevention and control of drug abuse, he urged running campaigns through mass media, essay contests, lectures and declamation contests in schools, colleges and universities in order to create awareness about the ill effects of drug addiction. The evidence points to a pressing need of taking drug abuse very seriously, and parents and teachers along with government and public health agencies should be alert to the rising epidemic of drug abuse among the Pakistani youth.
Dr Ashraf said efforts should be made to control tobacco smoking in the country, as it is the gateway to drug abuse. "Parents should be vigilant and keep an eye on the company/activities of their children. They should keep their children busy and motivate them to say their prayers regularly. He added that the government should solve the unemployment problem in the country, as economic worries provide a fertile ground to an individual for drug addiction.
"Free quitlines (telephone helpline offering treatment for addiction and behaviour change) for counselling services should be made available," he said and added that the government should increase the number of treatment and rehabilitation centres for drug addicts. Moreover, services provided for drug dependence in different sectors (government, NGOs, and private) need to be assessed for their quality, effectiveness and efficiency in providing a continuum of care and meeting the clients' diverse needs, he said.
The message must be promoted that drugs are slow poison in all forms and death follows drug addicts, concluded Dr Ashraf.Your Comments
Post your comments
QPMC to initiate four new programmes
Islamabad: The Quaid-a-Azam Postgraduate Medical College (QPMC) of the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) will be initiating four new programmes to produce specialists in various fields including trauma.
These programmes are Masters in Accident and Emergency, and MD in Critical Medicine, Rheumatology and Blood Transfusion Medicine.
"The prevailing situation of terrorism in Pakistan makes it mandatory for more and more doctors who are specialists in the field of trauma to be inducted in public and private hospitals of Pakistan," the Dean of the Quaid-e-Azam Postgraduate Medical College Professor Mumtaz Hassan commented here on Thursday. He said "This is the first time that Masters in Emergency is being introduced in Pakistan."
PIMS receives many disaster victims, most of them requiring emergency surgeries, intensive care and blood transfusions. "The initiation of these new programmes will facilitate better management of disasters," Dr. Mumtaz said. He commented that PIMS has always been in the forefront of disasters. "Our faculty earned recognition nationally and internationally for managing the earthquake disaster in the country's Northern Areas," he recollected. There are seven Intensive Care Units in PIMS.
The Quaid-e-Azam Postgraduate Medical College has many specialties; it has produced 662 specialists to date. Appreciating the role of postgraduate residents in PIMS, Professor Mumtaz said, they are practically running the institution.
"Most of our trained specialists are now serving in different institutions at home and abroad," he mentioned. The News
Post your comments
KMC students form action committee
Peshawar: The student's action committee has been organized at Khyber Medical College (KMC) to solve the problems of the college students here on Thursday. According to a press release issued here stated that the student federations and societies have jointly conducted conference and decided to organize student's action committee, which they said is necessary for handling the student's problems at the college. The members of federations including Islami Jamiat Talba, Pakhtoon Student Federation, Swat Students Society, Mardan, Dir, Swabi, Malakand, Bajaur, Hangu, Marwat, Bannu, and Waziristan attend the conference.
They have also decided that the students facing hostel problems would be solved and joint action would be carried out and they will never step back from sacrifices. The presiding members including Hafiz Muhammad Ishtiyaq, Ismail Khan, Kamran Khan, Asif Saood Islam, Aziz ur Rehman, Abu Bakar on the occasion said that students facing the problem of non availability of electric generators in load shedding including the lack of furniture at study rooms, common rooms are part of the students problems. They have also said on the occasion that they would not tolerate the insult their guests by campus police, and if their demands would not be fulfilled in time they will chalk out their own line of action. F.P report
Post your comments