Islamabad - The staggering figure of seven million drug addicts in the country sometimes numbs the mind.

The figure was quoted at a meeting of senate standing committee on interior and narcotics control while a UN drug survey report puts the number of drug-addicts in the country at 6.7 million. Seven million or 6.7 million, it will not be an exaggeration to say that the menace of drug-addiction is Pakistan’s enemy number 1 alongside terrorism with routes of drug smuggling from Afghanistan needing to be choked.

The drug-addiction naturally increases the crime ratio in the society, besides ruining family harmony and peace, as those hooked to drugs try to satisfy their lust by hook or by crook and in the process also immensely endanger their own health.

The senate standing committee on interior and narcotics control was further told recently, “700 people die every day in the country due to drug-related complications.” The committee was informed that drug-related deaths were greater in number than those caused by terrorism.

The country had been declared “poppy-free” since 2011. However, the area under poppy cultivation in Afghanistan has increased from 7,000 to 225,000 hectors.

Talking to APP, an official of Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) said that according to United Nations Drug Survey Report, 6.7 million people are drug users in Pakistan. Drug rehabilitation centres have been set up in almost all cities and towns, both privately and by the government, but no exact figure is available as to how many addicts walk out of these centres finally cured of this disease-like habit.

The ANF itself has established three model rehabilitation centres for drug addicts each in Islamabad, Quetta, and Karachi while others are to follow. The increasing demand of rehabilitation centres is a provincial subject and the ministry of national health services, regulation and coordination is responsible for dealing with the rehabilitation of addicts, said the ANF official.

Psychologist and chairman department of psychology, International Islamic

University, Islamabad (IIUI), Dr Muhammad Tahir Khalily, who got around 25 years experience of working with drug addicts and published numerous research articles on addiction, said, “We have not formulated any comprehensive internal policy to address the issue.”

He also lamented there is no university level course regarding the subject of rehabilitation of addicts. “The cosmetic walks of ‘say no to drugs’ and seminars against drug addiction would not help in overcoming the problem,” he added.

He stressed the need for two-pronged strategy of `supply and demand reduction’. Half of the addicts are those who are smoking cannabis (hashish) which has a direct link with bipolar disorder (mania), he added. He also termed alcohol abuse “a hidden atrocity against the society”.

The owner of a private Drug Rehabilitation Centre in Islamabad, Dr Abdul Ghayyour Khan, said the admitted addicts are provided with basic allopathic medicines along with counselling and psychotherapy. He said the charges per patient depend on the conditions, duration and provision of facilities.

Zakir Shah, brother of a drug addict, hailing from district Mardan, said the addicts usually resort to various petty crimes for generating income for the purchase of the drugs. He blamed the drug peddlers responsible for playing havoc with health of his brother. The worst aspect of drug addiction is that it disturbs human relations, social order, temperament and habits of the addicts, he added.

Umar Shed, a working Journalist, said, “For combating addiction, the governments should focus on building new playgrounds for boosting sports in the country.” He said, “We are lacking in healthy activities and sources of entertainment.”