Sunday, March 30, 2014

How Pakistan Succumbed to a Drug Epidemic

Pakistan is reeling from an epidemic of drug abuse. In 2013, 6.7 million people in Pakistan used illicit substances, of which 4.25 million are considered drug dependent. According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), more than 800,000 Pakistanis between the age of 15 and 64 use heroin regularly. About 44 tons of processed heroin are annually consumed in Pakistan. In addition, 110 tons of heroin and morphine from Afghanistan are trafficked through Pakistan to the international markets. Pakistan's illegal drug trade generates around $2 billion a year, which makes Pakistan the most heroin-addicted country in the world.
Under Pakistan’s Drug Abuse Control Master Plan, Pakistan aims to be drug-free by 2020. This goal will be extremely difficult to reach. Pakistan’s national and provincial governments seem unable or unwilling to respond to the crisis of the narcotics addiction.  But the UNODC is a key figure in funding and influencing the fight against narcotics.  Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has 17 drug dependency units or services. They treat a max of 1,052 patients at any time. Dost Welfare Foundation is a charity that provides about a third of these services. Dost works with drug addicts, street children, people with HIV/Aids and prisoners.
            Obviously, drug addiction is a huge problem in Pakistan. However, Pakistan isn’t completely a lost state. There are inspiring examples of recovery, like Tariq Shah, who started smoking heroin at the age of 9. After he came to Dost for treatment at the age of 18, he said that his brain slowly started to work again and that he owes everything to his doctor, who rescued him from quicksand. Now he works as a tailor with his father. His recovery story shows the success of the Dost Foundation. Although it seems that Pakistan will not be completely drug free in 2020, huge steps are being taken to help people fight against narcotics.

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