The drugs addiction among youth of Khyber PakhtunKhwa (KP) is on rise at an alarming pace despite strict legislation and measures of the provincial government to curb this menace.
A recent report issued by the Public Health Association KP revealed that almost 11 per cent of the KP’s population has used an illicit substance in the past year alone.
As per the report, there are many reasons which contribute to the increased availability of drugs in KP. Close proximity of KP to Afghanistan, which is a major opium producer in the world, is one of the main reason that KP is the worst affected province.
The report generally highlighted Pakistan as a safe heaven for drug addicts and drugs dealers. However, Peshawar has been mentioned as one of the top most affected cities from neighbouring Afghanistan.
According to another report carried out by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2014, there were 6.7 million people who use drugs in Pakistan, of which 4.25 million lives are depended on drugs.
The report estimated that more than eight million Pakistanis aged between 15 to 64 are regular drug abusers and almost five million are addicted to high-grade hashish commonly known as charas.
According to the report, Pakistan consumed 44 tons of heroins annually. About 110 tons of heroin and morphine is smuggled through Pakistan to international markets from Afghanistan. Four million users were listed as cannabis addicts, the most common drug used in Pakistan.
The report said the majority of the drug users are aged between 25 to 39 years. 40 per cent of the eight million used drugs due to poverty and stress and the rest used it to seek pleasure.
The report revealed that 74 per cent of the world’s opium is produced in Afghanistan and 40 per cent of this is supplied to the rest of the world via Pakistan, 34 per cent via Iran and the rest via Russia and other Central Asian countries.
However, commenting on the matter, Dr Iftikhar Hussain a leading psychiatrist working in Peshawar said that Pakistan is geographically vulnerable to drug trafficking due to its porous borders with Afghanistan; adding that the border management should seriously cope this issue by keeping a sharp eye on border movement; otherwise the situation is likely to further aggravate.
Dr Iftikhar who is curing the drugs abusers for the last two decades told us that the government should build more play grounds, give access to internet and increase employment opportunities in order to keep the youth away from drug addiction.
He claimed that the ratio of women drug addicts is also on alarming rise in KP which needs to be addressed immediately as it will have implications for the coming generations.
He demanded KP government to establish more rehabilitation centres in the province as the influx of the drugs patients was very high. Over 2 million drugs addicts are already registered in different rehabilitation centres of the province and it will not be able to accommodate any more addicts.
The United Nations, in one of its report has claimed that Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of illicit opium which has also affected its bordering countries.
According to reports, in 2016-17, Pakistan seized a total of 2,860 metric tons of different types of narcotics drugs, but still there is a lot to be done in breaking its supply chain. Reportedly, few police stations are directly involved in drugs supply and providing it necessary patronage.
The provincial government must formulate a mechanism to check such corrupt practices and should also establish public committee which will help the government in running awareness campaign against drug addiction and its impact on human lives.
Moreover, the KP government should take a smarter approach in order to restrict the supply of drugs. KP government should use innovative data and technology to assess supply routes and ensure coordinated operations with border forces against drug smugglers. This will greatly help in tackling drugs alongside other criminal activity.
The government should also provide necessary assistance to non-government organizations working against this menace. Dost Foundation in Peshawar is one of the leading rehabilitation centre in the province which treat the drugs patients since years; while talking to us on phone, an official of Dost Foundation said that the government needs to help them in curing the patients as KP is on the verge of very dangerous situations in terms of drugs addiction and trafficking.