Drugs addiction among youth touches peak point in KP

Sher Alam Shinwari

PESHAWAR: According to medical experts, the trend of ice, heroin, cannabis and other drugs addiction had been rising with every passing day among the school, college and university going students. Every month witnessed a 25% increase in the number of ice and heroin addicts both male and female, said one expert working with a private Drugs Rehab Centre. The facility being an offshoot of the Alkhidmat Foundation countrywide health services has been offering rehab programme on discount and at time free for poor drugs patients.

Peshawar has been singled out as the most affected city while district Swabi comes next in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Lower Dir, Malakand, Swat, Mardan, Nowshera, Charasadda, Kohat, Karak and Dera Ismail Khan are the other districts where large number of youth has fallen victim to ice and other drugs addiction, said an expert on the issue of drugs addiction. Women and teenagers ran great risk as there was no rehab facility for them, said the expert.

Sifwat Amin, an expert on drugs rehab, told Sunrise Today that the lone drugs rehab centre in Peshawar working under the Social Welfare Department Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had no facility for women affected by drugs addiction. The troika of parents, teachers and KP government could tackle this menace effectively otherwise it would engulf the entire youth community by storm, suggested Mr Amin. He said that preventive measures including mass awareness campaigns, seminars, workshops and setting up of anti-drugs societies in the educational institutions required to be speeded up for eradication of drugs evil.

Around 280 drugs addicts had been rehabilitated at the centre during the last four months as the facility had been working in three shifts and refused to admit new patients due to lack of space and financial constraints, added the project manager of the DRC launched in Nishtarabad, Peshawar way back 2018 with seven beds but increased up to current 45-bed.

Kifayatullah Saadyani, Project Manager of the Alkhidmat Drugs Rehabilitation Centre told this scribe that in the month of February last, 36 patients, out of them five being young women were admitted, 33 were discharged and from 1st of March to 14th, 18 more drugs addicts were admitted to the centre mostly school and college going teenagers using crystal methamphetamine commonly known as ‘ice’.

“In case of relapse to drugs dependency, tendencies of attempt to attack others or commit suicide appeared in such patients but we have many success stories. Deaths occurred of excessive drugs use are not normally reported. We suggest that our society should rise to the occasion to stop this fatal evil. Keep close contact with their children, heads of educational institutions especially running private hostels as most students use public parks, theatres, sports places, cafeterias, canteens, lawns, hostel kittens and rooms as safe havens,” elaborated Mr Saadyani.

Mr Saadyani said that 100% recovery was possible from ice addiction if reported well in time. He said after dope test, the patient was admitted for 15 days for passing through detoxification process followed by session of psychotherapy counseling both with patient and his/her family. He stated that the entire treatment and rehab cost Rs 25, 000 per patient and relief was given to those who could not afford the expenses, adding that there was a high ratio relapse cases in cannabis and heroin addiction and even in ice if parents or family members failed to keep a vigilant eye on their wards.

Zarwali Jan, a resident of Upper Dir, while sharing woeful tale of young son said that he had been working as driver in Saudi Arab for the last 13 years and always had the dream his younger son would become doctor one good day but as fate would had destined his dream were dashed to earth when he was informed by his relative that his son, Ali, 20, was admitted to a rehab centre in Peshawar for drugs treatment.

“I was shocked as I could not simply believe that my son could go that extent and would earn me a bad name by resorting to ice addiction. I wound up my job there and returned to Pakistan only to participate in the funeral prayer of Ali. I lost my job and my dear son. Later, I was told that my son had joined a group of ice addicts in a Peshawar hostel. He was admitted to local rehab centre and was fully recovered but again the same group of drugs addicts had dragged him into their circle and his rejoin proved a death trap,” Mr Jan said with tears rolling down his collar.

Sajid Naeem, 55, a resident of Peshawar, came up with yet another distressing story of his ice addict daughter. He said that his daughter Farishta, 23, a student of local university exhibited a strange behaviour three months ago but due to his long absence from home, he came to know later that she had contracted ice addiction from her classmates who had been living in private hostels in Peshawar as they hailed from far flung areas.

“First I tried to boost the confidence of my daughter to tell me what had gone wrong with her and revealing her ice addiction, I took her to a private rehab centre. She was got proper treatment and now leads a normal life but I am worried about hundreds of other young students who are totally depended on different kinds of drugs including ice,” narrated Mr Naeem. 

Dr Saifullah Khan, a medical officer at the Ice rehab centre launched in Fakirabad, Peshawar by CM Mahmood Khan on January 28, 2019 revealed that the centre had provided treatment to around 991 drugs patients with 98% being ice addicts in youth with age group 14 to 25 mostly from the provincial metropolis while district Swabi came on the second number, being the most affected district, adding that currently the ice rehab centre had 95 patients giving free medicines, food, and entrainment.

Sharing the startling details Mr Khan said that the rehab centre had been receiving about 55 affected young men on weekly basis, adding that the Social Welfare Department had already opened rehab centres in the affected districts while rehab centres in Kohat, Malakand, Swat, D I Khan would soon be operationalized. He however, admitted that the rehab centre did not have any facility for female-victims of drugs addiction. “We refuse treatment of women addicts because we don’t have women experts and also have no separate arrangements for them. Also we suggest home treatment for addicts under 18. We provide free treatment for 45 days at the centre,” he said.

Note: This feature was written in the early February 2020 when most rehab centres were closed down due to Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and drugs patients were sent homes. It is therefore, does not have any detail/data about the still increasing number of youth involving in drugs addiction during the current pandemic (Writer).

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