Countering drug abuse
Drug abuse is a problem in Pakistan and it is not discussed as often as it should be to arrive at viable solutions.
It appears that drugs are now increasingly being sold and purchased through the ease of access that social media provides. Drug abuse by at-risk youth is likely to escalate with new and faster forms of communication. However, these communication channels also provide us an opportunity to spread awareness about risks associated with the practice.
The topic is hugely under discussed because of the social stigma surrounding the issue; but with drug abuse showing no signs of dissipating, the government needs to take a stronger stance.
Instead, Sindh Excise and Taxation Minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla has recently expressed his inability to take action on the issue on grounds that it is apparently outside of his domain. It’s a shame that even people in authority fail to take the initiative required on an issue that effects 8.9 million people in Pakistan according to recent estimates. About 700 people die in Pakistan everyday due to drug-related complications.
The yet-to-be investigated connections between big money and drug cartels may possibly be a reason why concerted efforts are not taken on the issue.
Our inability in countering drug smuggling is matched with our absolute neglect of rehabilitation facilities that remain under funded and under resourced.
Despite an estimated 4.25 million individuals thought to be drug dependent in Pakistan, the Anti-Narcotics Force has just four hospitals equipped with rehabilitation facilities. The overall drug rehabilitation structure in the public sector can only cater to 30,000 people each year.
Drug abuse is not a stand-alone issue but it affects the entire society. The issue needs to be taken seriously by the government and awareness campaigns about the detrimental effects of drug abuse need to be carried out more frequently. The majority of anti-drug use efforts in the country have been initiated by international organizations. More efforts need to be put into preventing at-risk youth from drug abuse.
Daily Times, September 21, 2017
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