The recent murder of a 60-year-old man in an apartment in Karachi’s Saddar neighborhood, allegedly by a 40-year-old woman living in his home, shocked the city after police investigation revealed the suspect was “on ice” for the criminal act.
This grisly crime has opened a window into the silent epidemic of drug addiction sweeping the city. The harmful effects of illicit substances, especially âiceâ, have destroyed the lives of countless drug addicts as well as those of their loved ones. Meanwhile, the system remains desperately ill-equipped to deal with the burning problem.
A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) titled World Drug Report 2021 said a growing population is at higher risk of drug use. The rate is even higher in low-income countries.
Data from the UNODC website revealed that a national drug survey in the country indicated “a high prevalence of drug addict population in Pakistan”.
Faisal Edhi, renowned philanthropist and administrator of the Edhi Foundation, informed Bowl News that in the regions of Lyari, Landhi, Korangi and Banaras, at least one young person in each district uses drugs. âIn our project at the Edhi Foundation which started helping victims of drug addiction, we do not impose treatment on drug addicts. First, we organize counseling sessions in which the family members of the victims participate. And the results still show improvement. The attitude of society must change towards them, âhe stressed.
âThe pilot project we had in the Orangi region gave good results. We had the capacity to accommodate around 50 to 100 patients and we are now trying to expand the project to accommodate and rehabilitate up to 200 recovering drug addicts at a time. From our experience in rehabilitating victims, we have learned that it takes about 15-30 days to remove the effects of drugs from their system. We donate medication for drug withdrawal symptoms. When taking the drug pill for the first time, patients experience withdrawal effects for about a week.
âIt can have serious psychological effects on recovering drug addicts, so we need to monitor them carefully. Many patients try to harm themselves, we also give them pills to reduce their pain and facilitate their recovery. It is also absolutely necessary to provide the right doses of glucose and other carbohydrates at this critical stage. The overall treatment is not that expensive, âhe added.
A major market
Tahir Ahmed, a psychotherapist at a drug addiction rehab center in Karachi, said the city is the country’s largest market for the supply, distribution and consumption of drugs in the region. âYes, drug use has increased dramatically in the provincial capital in recent years. “
Commenting on the abuse of “ice” or crystal meth in Karachi, he added that it is difficult to quantify whether or not there is an increase in the consumption of this stimulant. “However, since crystal meth is now found in Quetta instead of the Afghan side, the consumption of this cheap drug has increased exponentially.”
He added that there has been an increase in crimes due to the consumption of ice cream in society. âIce causes psychotic rage, so domestic violence as well as street crime has increased in big cities. He also said rehabilitation centers don’t necessarily have to contend with the number and type of cases that come up. âThere should be a good balance between medicine and deep therapy when approaching addiction victims.
âCrystal meth causes hypomania and delusions. It destroys sleep and appetite and invariably leads to violent behavior. Appropriate training in pharmacotherapy is essential to deal with the drug problem, as well as mass family education to prevent a further increase in drug use.
Al-Shakoor Foundation vice chairman Mishal Ashraf, who is also a clinical psychologist at the foundation’s mental health clinic and addiction therapist at a drug rehab center, said Bowl News that Karachi has witnessed “huge” drug use in recent years. âIt is mainly young people who are involved in drug use. I can’t give an exact figure for ice consumption, but yes drug abuse has increased in the city â. Arguably there has been an increase in the crime rate due to ice consumption, added the addiction therapist.
Support is essential
The clinical psychologist said we can support victims by creating family support groups. âTeaching family and friends how to deal with the victim’s mood and temper tantrums, firstly by not showing aggression towards addicts and secondly by seeing them as mentally illâ is important, he said. she declared.
Ice is a more potent form of methamphetamine that has more harmful effects than powdered methamphetamine. The effects of the drug are unpredictable. Anxiety, restlessness, panic attacks, dehydration, violent behavior, psychosis, an unconscious state of mind are commonly seen in drug addicts, she also said.
She has observed that many recovering addicts do their best to balance their daily routines. She stressed that an early diagnosis of drug addiction by monitoring the daily routine of a potential victim is absolutely necessary.
Commenting on the issue of societal barriers, she stressed that government intervention could help before the drug crisis worsens.
To better understand the struggles of drug addicts as well as those who have managed to recover from them, Bowl News spoke with victims who were rehabilitating at the Edhi Welfare Organization’s special house in the Sohrab Goth area of ââKarachi.
Baba Alam, 69, who has lived at the Edhi Home for 11 years, said the road to recovery is possible for struggling drug addicts if they are willing to overcome the stigma attached to therapy. âI have been cared for and respected in this Edhi house since I came here. I started using drugs in 1982-1983 and continued until 2010. When I started using drugs with my peers, drugs were cheap and readily available in Karachi. Young people today should not play their lives like [we] did it, âhe warned.
Nadeem Suleman, 46, who has lived at Edhi Home in Sohrab Goth for two years, said: âI recovered from my drug addiction just over two months ago. It took me about four months to get over the crisis. Now my health is normal and I started to take care of others to protect them from what I had been through. I used to suffer from irritation early in the recovery phase, but now I feel great. The experience of the first few days was excruciating, but if you hang in there you will eventually overcome the pain â.
Contacted to comment on the global drug problem and the drug-related crime situation in the metropolis, the public relations manager of Sindh ANF refused Bowl Newsrequest for a statement, citing the refusal of authorization by senior officials of the executive office.
The allegedly high prevalence of drug use and its repercussions in society call for the urgent need for stronger enforcement of drug laws, drug prevention and intervention by caregivers and the opening of more treatment centers in areas where the consumption rate is high.
Earlier this year, the Sindh government unanimously passed the Narcotic Substance Control Bill 2021 (Sindh Amendment) as part of the measures to reduce the threat of illegal drugs.
Such measures, coupled with appropriate health care systems, could help tackle the problem of drug trafficking in major cities which is ultimately connected to larger drug networks in the region.