Drug addiction in Pakistan
Drug addiction is defined as compulsive and out-of-control drug use, despite negative consequences. In the last few decades, drug addiction has increased exponentially in Pakistan. Most of the illegal drugs come from the neighbouring Afghanistan. According to the UN estimate, 8.9 million people in the country are drug users. Cannabis is the most used drug. The rate of injection drug abuse has also increased significantly in Pakistan, sparking fears of an HIV epidemic.
Although, the increase in the problem has been alarming, the government response has been minimal at best. Few programs are active in the country to help drug addicts and smuggling and availability of the drugs in the country has gone almost unchecked.
Anti-Narcotics Force is the government agency responsible for tackling drug smuggling and use within Pakistan.
Extent of the problem
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Pakistan has 6.7 million drug users. More than 4 million of these are addicts, amongst the highest number for any country in the world. Abuse of cannabis and heroin is rife in the country and the drugs are extremely cheap and easy to get. Most of the drugs come from Afghanistan, the country that is responsible for at least 75% of the world's heroin. UNODC calculates that more than 800,000 Pakistanis aged between 15 and 64 use heroin regularly. It is also estimated that up to 44 tons of processed heroin are consumed annually in Pakistan - a rate of use twice or thrice that of America's. A further 110 tons of heroin and morphine from neighboring Afghanistan are trafficked through Pakistan to international markets. Furthermore, Pakistan’s illegal drug trade is believed to generate up to $2 billion a year.
The number of drug (Cannabis) users is particularly high in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, which neighbors Afghanistan, where close to 11 percent of the population is hooked on drugs (mainly Cannabis) . In 2013, the number of drug users in Balochistan was 280,000. In Punjab and Sindh Heroin and Opium users are significantly higher than other parts of the country. The use of Heroin and Opium is widespread in rural areas of Punjab and Sindh.
The number of injection drug users in Punjab has also increased sharply in the recent years. In 2007, Pakistan had an estimated 90,000 injecting drug users but the number had risen to around 500,000 by 2014. This increase has also been accompanied by an increase in HIV positivity. According to research, in 2005, about 11 percent of Pakistani drug users were HIV positive. That number had risen to 40 percent in 2011.
Treatment and Specialist intervention
According to the survey report, treatment and specialist interventions were in short supply. During the period under review, treatment was available to less than 30,000 drug users. The Anti-Narcotics Force is a federal executive bureau of the Government of Pakistan, tasked with combating the drug smuggling and use within Pakistan.
- "Drugged up Pakistan". AlJazeera. 10 October 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- David Browne (23 March 2014). "How Pakistan succumbed to a hard-drug epidemic". Telegraph. The Telegraph. Retrieved 18 March 2015.
- The Newspaper's Staff Correspondent. "6.7m Pakistanis used drugs in 2013: report".
- "Pakistan: The Most Heroin-Addicted Country in the World". The Diplomat. 24 March 2014. Retrieved 18 March 2015.