Human Rights

Drug Addiction in Pakistan: A Growing Crisis That Needs Urgent Attention

It was the month of Muharram, when nomads set up huts outside the largest Mai Shah cemetery in Sahiwal city and took over the task of repairing the old graves of people’s loved ones.

Their work went well from 1st to 10th Muharram and then on the night of 10th Muharram, they all left here. On the morning of Muharram 11, they suddenly got the news of the disappearance of an 18-year-old gypsy girl and in the evening her body was lying outside the same cemetery.

The girl was a drug addict and had gone somewhere on the night of 10 with two boys in the greed of drugs. At the same time, she was raped and murdered and the body was dumped outside the Mai Shah cemetery.

Similar incidents are scattered in every small and big city of Pakistan. Whether it is a person picking paper in the garbage or a young man studying in the most expensive educational institution, both have become addicted to drugs, there is only a difference in quality.

Whether it is the flyovers located in Thokar Niaz Beg area of Lahore city or the Khanna Bridge area of the city of Islamabad, you will find the future of drunk Pakistan lying on footpaths, roads, vacant plots and metro train stations.

Central and provincial agencies are working to prevent drugs in the country, but there is no success in this prevention. In Pakistan, the anti-narcotics force has a slightly better success rate than other institutions. While the responsibility of the police is very important in the second place, the police of the four provinces are also doing their job, but despite this, the supply and demand of drugs is increasing.

Syed Zulfiqar Hussain, consultant anti-drug campaign, says that Pakistan has now become one of the largest countries in the world in terms of drug use and supply. According to official figures in Pakistan, the number of drug addicts in the country was 6.7 million in the 2013 National Survey of Drugs, in which Punjab province was ahead of other provinces in drug use. Heroin marijuana, cannabis, cocaine and sedatives are mentioned in this survey.

Now in 2023, everyone seems to be worried about the increase in the number of drug addicts. At present, 10 million people in Pakistan are using drugs. The use of ice, heroin, marijuana, alcohol, LSD, STC party drugs, cannabis, opium sedative injections and tablets is most common in the country.

Saima is running a rehabilitation center for drug addicts in Sahiwal called FJ Metaphysical and in the last two years, she has been able to bring about 125 drug addicts back to life under her help.

Saima says it is estimated that more than 20,000 people in Sahiwal region, including Arifwala, Okara and Pakpattan, are injecting drugs. But here it is not only important to get rid of addiction and to run awareness campaigns about it, but it is more important to raise awareness about mental health and depression. ‘‘

According to a report, more than 9 million patients suffer from drug use problems and there are only 500 psychiatrists and only 30,000 beds in all care facilities across Pakistan to deal with this problem.

There are many reasons for addiction in young people, including unemployment, lack of ideal, bad company of friends, chaos in the family system, education and use of drugs in the family. But years of political and economic instability in the country have also been a major reason for the increase in drug addiction.

Syed Zulfiqar says that along with other social problems related to the use of sedative injections, crystal ice, cocaine, heroin and marijuana, the rate of khula and divorce in the society has increased. Homeless and unidentified drug addicts are dying of drugs on the streets and footpaths in major cities of the country.

Unfortunately, the bodies of abandoned and homeless people are found on footpaths, parks and roads. Drug Advisory Training Hub, an anti-drug training organization, releases reports every month on the deaths of drug addicts, new drug trends, with surprising revelations and incidents coming out.

Thousands of sedative injections are sold every month on the streets of Lahore city. Along with the men on the streets, women are also addicted. There were 55 deaths in January, 42 in February and 31 in March.

The report further states that Lahore city is counted among the largest cities in the world after Karachi in terms of drug use. The increase in drug addiction also reached student hostels and tea houses. Data Darbar, Bhati Gate, Lorry Adda and Tubi City and Qila Gujjar Singh areas have a high death rate of unknown drug addicts, the report revealed.

No large or separate hospital could be built at the government level to rehabilitate drug addicts and prevent newcomers from addiction.

It is a matter of concern that despite the presence of anti-drug laws, police and anti-narcotics institutions in Punjab, why all kinds of intoxicating substances are easily available from the common streets of the country to educational institutions. Isn’t the mental and physical health of the younger generation a priority of the government?

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