By Syeda Wafa Bukhari,
The prevalence of drug use in Pakistan has risen dramatically, with nearly 7.6 million individuals reported to be using drugs according to a 2013 report on drugs by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). However, since then, no comprehensive data has been gathered to assess the scale of drug abuse in the country. The Anti-Narcotics Force, a federal executive bureau of Pakistan’s government responsible for fighting against narcotics smuggling and usage within the country, has also failed.
Substance abuse refers to the excessive and uncontrollable usage of drugs, despite the negative outcomes. In Pakistan, substance abuse has risen across various age groups, genders, and demographics. Since drug usage is considered illegal, and people don’t talk openly about their drug habits, it becomes almost impossible to determine the extent of drug abuse.
Currently, drug addicts can be observed injecting themselves with illegal drugs without any fear on the canal road, greenbelts, parapets, footpaths, bridges, and inside the underpasses. Around 700,000 children in Pakistan are addicted to drugs, and the number of deaths caused by drug addiction among children is 700, which is higher than the fatalities caused by terrorism. Additionally, over a million children between the ages of 16 to 18 are frequent users of heroin.
There are an additional 300,000 children in Pakistan who are addicted to cannabis or marijuana, which is attributed to their easy accessibility and low price. As a result, a significant number of Pakistani children are afflicted with cannabis and marijuana addiction.
Studies have revealed that children between the ages of 16 to 18 who indulge in smoking and alcohol are more likely to develop an addiction
Children suffering from drug addiction tend to isolate themselves from society and become vulnerable to various diseases. They lose the trust of their families and often resort to criminal activities to obtain drugs. In severe cases, excessive drug use can even lead to the death of a child.
The surge in drug usage can be attributed to several factors, including low prices, evolving social norms that impose unrealistic expectations, lack of employment opportunities leading to economic frustration, disinterest in education, peer pressure, parental negligence, the existence of drug dens, and inadequate drug education.
The primary responsibility for addressing this issue lies with the Government of Pakistan, which should prioritize the creation of employment opportunities, the establishment of vocational training centers, the provision of high-quality education in public institutions, the development of a competitive environment, and opportunities for extracurricular activities.
The writer is a student of BS Journalism studies at Punjab University and can be reached at:[email protected].