628,000 drug abusers in Pakistan, says report
Monday, April 14, 2008
There are more or less 628,000 opioid users (heroin, morphine, opium, codine, pentazocine, buprenorphine etc) in the country, National Drug Abuse Assessment 2006/07 report revealed.
The report is prepared by the United Nation Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Narcotics Control and Anti Narcotics Force (ANF). Drug Abuse has become global phenomena, affecting the very fabric of the socio-economic structure of the families and country.
It has many negative effects on physiological health, ranging from minor issues like digestion problems or respiratory infections, to potentially fatal diseases, like AIDS and Hepatitis C.
The report on this assessment contains statistics and analysis of patterns and trends in drug abuse and drug-related HIV in the country.
Out of the total around 77 per cent (484,000) are estimated heroin users. These findings mirror those of Drug Abuse Assessment undertaken in 2000 (estimated number of heroin users in 2000 drug abuse assessment was 500,000).
Given the massive increase of opium and heroin production in neighbouring Afghanistan and increase in number of population in the country, this stability in prevalence rates is a notable achievement.
There are an estimated 125,000 injecting drug users. It is important to note that in the year 2000, the absolute number of injecting drug users in the country was 60,000, which almost doubled in 2006-an alarming trend that needs to be addressed on priority.
Cannabis is the most commonly used substance followed by sedatives and tranquillisers, such as benzodiazepines, heroin, opium and other opiates.
Ecstasy is an emerging drug especially among youth belonging to the higher socio-economic groups in some urban centres in the country. Inhalant abuse is common among street children.
Eight per cent self-reported drug-users being HIV positive, 11 per cent hepatitis C positive and 18 per cent reported being infected with Tuberculosis.
Up to 38 per cent of drug users had been arrested at least once in their lifetime on drug-related charges.
Only 17 per cent of the drug users had been treated for opioid use in the 12 months. Up to two thirds of the estimated opioid dependent persons in the country are in urgent need of treatment and care.
Drug prevention programme should focus on health promotion, and based on developing links between knowledge, values and skills.
Specialised interventions for most-at-risk adolescents such as child labourers and street children are needed urgently.