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4.25m Pakistanis drug dependent: survey
Publication Date : 05-03-2014
Around 4.25 million people in Pakistan are drug dependent with a substantial proportion of population aged 15 to 64 suffering from its devastating consequences, said a survey report launched here on Tuesday.
The "Drug Use in Pakistan Survey Report" a research effort initiated by Narcotics Control Division, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and UN Office on Drug Control (UNODC), is a first serious attempt of its kind to highlight level of drug use in Pakistan.
The report estimates that 6 per cent or 6.7 million adults in Pakistan, used drugs in the last 12 months with treatment and specialist interventions in short supply. The treatment services were available to less than 30,000 drug users.
“In a country where almost a quarter of the population is estimated to be living on less than US$1.25 a day, the barriers preventing the drug users access to structured treatment are exceptionally high,” it said.
The survey, according to experts, was the first ever attempt aimed at providing baseline information on the prevalence and patterns of drug use among the population.
The report will help the government, the civil society and private sector organisations design and implement a proper policy in this regard.
Mian Zulqernain Amir, Joint Secretary Narcotics Control Division, while inaugurating the launch of drug use survey 2013 said Pakistan had a serious drug use problem affecting every fiber of the society. “We are committed to eradicating the menace of drug use with special focus on youth,” he added.
Cesar Guedes, Representative UNODC, stated that National Drug Use Survey 2013 provided a comprehensive data of drug use and drug related HIV. The data provided in the report will form the baseline for future planning and designing of drug prevention and treatment programmes in Pakistan.
Cannabis was found to be the most commonly used drug in Pakistan consumed by 3.6 per cent of the adult population or four million people, listed as users.
Opiates, namely opium and heroin, are used by almost one per cent of overall drugs users (860,000 chronic heroin users), and the highest levels of use in areas bordering principal poppy-cultivating areas in neighbouring Afghanistan.
According to the report, men predominantly use cannabis and opiates, whereas women rely on tranquilisers, sedatives and prescribed amphetamines.
Alarmingly, the report also shows high prevalence (1.6 million) of non-medical use of prescription drugs nationwide, particularly amongst women. The report says almost all surveyed women said they resorted to misusing opioid-based (morphine like) painkillers, and to lesser extent tranquilizers and sedatives, which are readily available in pharmacies.
Another key finding was the emergence of methamphetamine use in some areas of the country