The physical health and sexual health of addicts weaken so rapidly that a young man of thirties looks an old man of over-sixties. “Drug use in general leads to a number of health problems, such as malnutrition, apathy, menstrual irregularities and irregular heart rhythm and premature death.” Drug addicts are also more prone to accidents and are at higher risk of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B & C, tuberculosis, suicide, overdose deaths and cardiovascular diseases. Married drug addicts have high probability of having mentally retarded and physically handicapped children. Young people who use cannabis are doubling their risk of psychotic symptoms like schizophrenia, hallucinations, hearing voices etc.

An addict is a sick person and needs humanistic treatment. Treatment of drug addicts is done in three stages — assessment, detoxification and rehabilitation. The most difficult part of the treatment is rehabilitation in which there is need to motivate a patient to take up a healthy activity preferably away from old places and old company. “Around 4.25 million drug users in Pakistan were considered dependent on substances and required a form of structured intervention for treatment of their drug use disorder”.

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It said that due to its large share of the population, the Punjab had the highest number of drug users and people who injected drugs (PWID) with 2.9 million people using illicit substances in 2013, and approximately 260,000 people who inject drugs. The number of people who inject drugs is estimated to 430,000 nationwide.

Approximately 1.5 per cent of the population (1.6 million people) reported non-medical use of prescription opioids (painkillers) in the past year. While men were found to use more drugs than women for most drug types, women were more likely to misuse tranquilizers and sedatives as well as amphetamines, the report said. Poly-drug use was also found to be common, with one in five people reporting using more than one controlled substance in the past year. An estimated 860,000 people (0.8 per cent of the population) were regular heroin users and 320,000 used opium. The majority of drug users surveyed were between 25 and 39 years of age Cannabis use was highest among 30 to 34 year olds and heroin use was highest among 35 to 39 years old.

The above facts and statistics show the epidemic of drug addiction in Pakistan, which is definitely an alarming condition. Government and the law enforcement agencies should take serious actions to control this; otherwise it will be too late…

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