Drug abuse is a worldwide phenomenon. It is wide spread in our society and has affected Pakistan in many ways. It contributes to crime, adds to the cost of our already overloaded health care system and to the financially impoverished social welfare system. It is also a serious threat to one’s health and also causes violence and mass crime in a society. Being a developing country with a small economic base, the menace of the drug addiction became stronger and remained under cover of Pakistan’s other development issues such as poverty, poor health care, illiteracy, child labor, limited power resources and terrorism. It could not be addressed properly due to lack of awareness, poor coordination between the health care facilities, educational institutions and the families of the recovering addicts. Besides limited efforts in the last decade the fact is that drug abuse is rapidly growing in Pakistan and having a major impact on the society; especially on the youth.
The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime presented its annual drug report recently, which says that Pakistan’s annual heroin market is worth $1.2 billion. With more than 90 per cent of the world’s opium being produced in neighboring Afghanistan, Pakistan becomes the main route for opium to be supplied to the world. According to government sources, 600,000 people enter into drug abuse in Pakistan annually. Vulnerability to HIV and other blood-borne diseases through injecting drug use is also considerable, with 420,000 drug users estimated to be injecting drugs in Pakistan, a higher estimate than ever reported previously. The technical summary of the Drug Use in Pakistan 2013 Report launched during the Commission on Narcotic Drugs reveals how a substantial proportion of Pakistan’s population aged 15 to 64 suffer from the devastating consequences of substance abuse. The Report estimates that 5.8 per cent – or 6.4 million adults in Pakistan – used drugs in the last 12 months. Although 4.1 million individuals are thought to be drug dependent, treatment and specialist interventions are in short supply, available to less than 600,000 drug users a year. Moreover, not all structured treatment is free of charge. In a country where almost a quarter of the population is estimated to be living on less than US$ 1.25 a day, the barriers preventing access to structured treatment are exceptionally high. In the absence of rehabilitation facilities at government hospitals, private hospitals are charging unreasonable amounts to treat drug addicts. The treatment of one patient can range from Rs45, 000 to Rs600, 000. According to report published by the Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), 70 percent of all drug addicts want treatment, but don’t have resources to avail it.
But the New Horizon Care Centre (NHCC) has proved to be a ray of hope in the otherwise depressing drug addiction scene of Pakistan. The NHCC is currently running four hospitals where drug addicts are provided free-of-cost treatment. We have treated more than 15,000 patients at our centers in past 12 years 100% free. Due to limited resources the centers can only treat 350 to 500 patients at a time for a minimum of 6 week to 3 months period of treatment. We also provide free treatment to 1,915 drug addicts at the Central Jail Karachi. However, the situation is not controlled right way, the number of drug addicts in Pakistan might double in the next 10 years. Patients undergoing rehab at the NHC centre in Karachi and Wazir abbad says that they are ready to restart their lives with new ambition and have made up their minds to never use drugs again.
We seek to help, guide and facilitate hundreds of families whose loved ones, mostly youngsters, unemployed and victims of the society where drug traffickers and pushers can freely functioned ssand target them, to rid themselves of drug abuse, build a new, healthy and productive life. We seek to provide drug addicts, often physically neglected and socially despised, secure shelter, caring environment, treatment, rehabilitation and edification to regain and rebuild their lost lives afresh.
Drug addiction is a chronic disease and denial is one of the symbols of all such diseases. The government, as well as private addiction treatment facilities, must provide incentives to drug abusers so that they are willing to be treated. Law enforcement agencies should refer drug addicts for treatment rather than sending them to jail where drugs are easily available. Most drug addiction treatment centers are located in big cities. The need of the hour is for treatment facilities to be established in small cities and towns. At the same time, incentives for professionals in this field should be provided. Currently, they lack training facilities and funds.