Oblivious to the repercussions, people experiment with things they aren’t supposed to. When this experimentation crosses the line of legal and social constraints, it becomes an abuse. Drug abuse in Pakistan has been on a rise since the past few years. As per United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), there are around seven million drug users in Pakistan and more than four million are addicts.

Cannabis and heroin are some of the more widely used drugs. These drugs are inexpensive and readily available, making them more common day by the day. The average daily toll of deaths caused by drug abuse in Pakistan is higher than that caused by terrorism.

Pakistan has around four million cannabis users and eight hundred thousand people are chronic heroin users, between the ages of 15 to 64 years, as per conservative estimates. 44 tons of heroin is consumed by Pakistan annually; this is twice or thrice as compared to the consumption by the US. The number of injection users has also increased 5 times in the past 10 years. This is sparking a rise in HIV related diseases. Eleven percent of the tested drug addicts are found to be HIV positive. These individuals are in dire need of professional help, yet our country fails to enforce reforms to avert this imminent plague.

Cannabis and opiates are more common amongst men and women who rely on sedatives, tranquilizers, and prescribed amphetamines. Morphine based painkillers were missed more when compared to the use of sedatives and tranquilizers. Around 1.6 million individuals are involved in the use of such drugs for non-medical purposes.

Majority of these illegal substances are from Afghanistan. This country is responsible for 75% of the world’s drug production and supply of legal narcotics. Around 110 tons of heroin and morphine from Afghanistan are trafficked through Pakistan to the international markets. This illegal drug trafficking cartel generates around 2 billion dollars yearly. However, the most surprising aspect of this epidemic is that the average age of a drug addict in Pakistan is 20 to 24 years. Aware of this bane to the nation; law enforcers and agencies fail to limit or trim the sale and purchase of this illegal cartel.

It is a well-known fact that most of these addicts start of soft with cigarettes, “chaliya” and “gutka”. Soon the temptation to evade from their miseries or problems increases. This then ignites the use of hard material such as alcohol, injections and cannabis rolled cigarettes. Staying in this comatose state not only provides them an escape from reality, but it also moves them a step closer to addiction.

Our society’s response to these addicts is also quite unforgiving. As we believe these addicts chose to become what they are, and they themselves should help themselves out of the hot water they are in. However, it is believed that the most effective and humane treatment of those affected would be to provide them proper rehabilitation facilities.

Proper awareness should be spread starting from home. Parents should keep a vigilant eye on their kids and their activities. Signs such as problems at school, mood swings, loss of interest, violent behavior, withdrawal, depression, theft and poor hygiene must not be ignored and actions should be taken accordingly. A level of understanding and confidence should be developed between parents and their children; so, that kids find a freedom to question parents about things such as drugs and sex. Campaigns and activities for awareness ought to be conducted at schools to discuss the adverse effects of drugs and alcohol.

Government agencies like the ‘Anti-Narcotics Force’ is responsible to combat and exterminate the smuggling of illegal drugs within Pakistan. It’s high time that these agencies come down hard on this drug cartel and eradicate this problem from the root. This seems to be the most effective solution to this impending catastrophe.

By: Amna Mushtaq Khan