Drug Addiction: Pakistan’s Hidden Habit

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Pakistan has a drug addiction problem; not matter how much we would like to deny it. 700 people every day succumb to this problem, and yet most of us live in denial about this dark habit.

The types of drugs available are aplenty too. From the abuse of prescription medicine to opioids to meth, everything is available. Present across all tax brackets, our drug addiction problem is slowly but surely, getting out of hand.

Compounding factors

The fact that around 8.9 million Pakistanis are addicts is a testament to our drug problem. Peer pressure, recreational usage, unemployment, depression are some reasons why people get into the habit of taking drugs.

But there are many factors that are compounding this situation.

Prescription medication available freely

In Pakistan, finding drugs is not very hard. Due to the lack of check and balance, many pharmacies do not ask for prescription before offering the medicine. Moreover, the lax attitude of the respective authorities also makes it possible for people to relatively easily get their hands-on opioids and other prescription painkillers through shady channels.

Drug cartels in power

Many cartels in Pakistan are backed by powerful politicians and corrupt officials. Therefore, it is rather easy for them to operate. The easy availability of different drugs makes it very easy to procure drugs.

Moreover, law and order situation in the country is weak at best. When smuggling of drugs from the neighboring country combines with lack of policing, result is free reigns to the drug-lords, who use every and any way to make people victims of addiction.

Stress in educational institutes

Students suffer from immense stress, whether it be due to peer pressure or their academics. These angsty and stressed teenagers are primal candidate for drugs. Since counselors are not provided in educational institutes and talking to parents about mental health is clearly out of question, the only outlet available to them are the drug then.

Problems getting treatment

Pakistani society has a huge role to play in the drug habit. Not only are our behaviors propagating drug usage, but they also prevent patients from getting help. Some common problem accosted when getting the treatment include:

Lack of facilities

Health budget is meagre as it is, and no one wants to expend it on addicts, who come way below in the hierarchy of people in the country. In-patients, or even OPD are nearly non-existent.

In a state where mental health facilities are not given any priority, little can be expected of addiction treatment centers.

Private clinics are available but are very expensive. With most of the population living below the poverty line, private treatment is a luxury that not many can afford.

When the treatment is more expensive than the drugs, one cannot fault people for choosing the easier path.

Shoving under the rug

In Pakistan, emotion support is rather hard to find. Partly due to the lack of knowledge, and partly due to the denial factor, people tend to shove things under the rug rather than resolving issues.

So, for instance, someone is having drug addiction, their parents would rather blame the company of their child. Or they work at presenting their offspring with distractions like marriage; anything but recognizing the issue and resolving it.

Moreover, as the emotional health is never analyzed, thus, no one tries to get to the root of the addiction in the first place. Without resolving the underlying issue, all attempts to helping overcome the addiction are superficial, and useless in the long run.

Stigma attached

Stigmas around words like ‘rehab’ are a great deterrent for people in seeking treatment. It involves the admission of the drug problem to begin with. Going to rehab leads to information about addiction becoming public, and thus the censure ensues. Therefore, people get afraid of seeking help due to the stigma surround it.

Many then try resolving the problem with their own willpower, not realizing that addiction is a mental condition. It needs proper intervention to be manageable and cannot simply be willed away.

An addict already suffers from a fragile mental state. Stigma around addiction and mental health further aggravates their condition. It also prevents them from disclosing their problem and getting the requisite help.

Ironically, ostracization from the people actually leads to addicts relapsing and falling back into their old habit of abuse. Moreover, labels tend to even last longer than the problem itself. So, even if the person overcomes their addiction, they are always remembered as an addict, and that too by using derogatory words.

Parents too, get afraid of rehabs from the fear of word getting out that their child is an addict. They believe that the future prospects of their child will suffer gravely, especially when it comes to marriage and matters of reputation. So, rather than treating the patient, they just want the patients’ symptoms to be manageable.

Final note

It is important for all of us to own the problem of drug addiction. These people are part of our society, and they also deserve help. Not only should we be making efforts at identifying and mitigating the compounding factors, but it’s an onus of the society to help addicts in recovering as well.

Addiction is a mental condition that can happen to anyone. If you have any family or friend suffering from drug habit, get them the much-needed help by booking them an appointment with the top psychiatrists in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad through oladocx.com. You can also  for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your addiction-related issues.

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About the Author: Dr. Arooba

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