Pakistan had 6.7 million drug users in 2013, UN report says
Last Updated: Tuesday, March 04, 2014, 19:02
Islamabad: A staggering 6.7 million adults in Pakistan, which sits on one of the busiest drug trafficking corridors in the world, used drugs last year, a UN report released today said.

The 'Drug Use in Pakistan 2013 Survey Report' by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) reveals how a substantial proportion of Pakistan's population aged between 15 to 64 suffer from the devastating consequences of substance abuse.

The report estimates that 6 per cent - or 6.7 million adults in Pakistan - used drugs in the last 12 months. Although 4.25 million individuals are thought to be drug dependent, treatment and specialist interventions are in short supply, available to less than 30,000 drug users a year.

Mohammad Akbar Khan Hoti, Secretary in Narcotics Control Division, said Pakistan has a serious drug use problem "affecting every fibre of society".

Cannabis was found to be the most commonly used drug in Pakistan, used by 3.6 per cent of the adult population, or 4 million people listed as users. Opiates, namely opium and heroin, are used by almost one per cent of overall drugs users (8.6 lakh heroin users), and the highest levels of use are seen in provinces which border principal poppy-cultivating areas in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran form the Golden Crescent, one of Asia's two principal areas of illicit opium production.

Significant differences in patterns of consumption by type of drug used are observed among men and women.

While men are more likely to use cannabis and opiates, the use of tranquilisers and sedatives and prescription amphetamines is higher among women. Alarmingly, the report also shows high prevalence (1.6 million) in non-medical use of prescription drugs nationwide, particularly among women.

Almost all women who reveal they used drugs resort to misusing opioid-based painkillers, and to a lesser extent tranquillisers and sedatives, which are readily available in pharmacies.

Another key finding is the emergence of methamphetamine use in some areas of the country.

Vulnerability to HIV and other blood-borne diseases through injecting drugs is also considerable, with 430,000 drug users estimated to be injecting drugs in Pakistan, a higher estimate than ever reported previously. The report mentions that Pakistan sits on one of the world's busiest drug trafficking corridors, largely due to the cultivation of opium, poppy and cannabis in Afghanistan. Afghanistan produces over 90 per cent of the world's non-pharmaceutical-grade opium and is also the world's largest producer of hashish.

According to UNODC estimates, 40 per cent of drugs (heroin and charas) produced in Afghanistan are routed through Pakistan.


First Published: Tuesday, March 04, 2014, 19:02

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