Pakistan has had more than its fair share of problems. One of the bigger yet seemingly unprecedented problems is that of drug abuse.

According to a report released by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in 2013, 4.1 million people in Pakistan have been thought to be dependent on drugs. The most used drug was cannabis, which had 4 million people listed as users.

Apart from this, the report also showed a high prevalence of non-medical use of prescription drugs, all over Pakistan. On 26th June, World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Narcotics Control Pakistan, along with UNODC, launched the World Drug Report 2019. That day was commemorated as the “International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking”.

During the event, Dr Palitha Mahipala, a WHO representative, affirmed that “Tobacco is the leading risk factor towards drug use; in fact it is the first step towards this menace” (UNODC)

According to the report itself, there are 2.7million opioid users. It also says that 14 percent of the global total of opiates has been seized in Pakistan. Amounting at 71,784 kgs, this makes Pakistan the third highest country in amount of opiates seized, with Afghanistan being second (26pc) and Iran at the top (39pc). Although this may be seemingly good news, it highlights on how wide a scale this drug has been spread, throughout our country.  The main reason for this may be the fact that we share borders with the world’s largest opium producer.

Accounting for 82 percent of global illicit opium production, Afghanistan is the international market’s main supplier. Pakistan, being one of the routes through which these drugs are smuggled, is no doubt being adversely affected by them as well.

The situation is worse at KPK, where 11percent of the population, including women and children is involved in drug abuse. However, that is not the worst of it. According to a UNODC survey, conducted in 2013, on Drug use in Pakistan, 73% of PWID (People Who Inject Drugs) have reported that they share syringes, on account of lack of access to sterile equipment, only 1 percent accessed needle and syringe supply or similar services in the last six months. Additionally, 1/3rd of these are estimated to be HIV positive. This indicates the possibility of what can be a widespread epidemic.

Considering the state of things as they are, it is crucial (now more than ever) that we preach the necessity of using sterile equipment. Whether at a barber’s or at the doctors, one must absolutely always make sure, that the equipment is sterilized, lest we become victims of our own ignorance.

The only permanent solution to this problem is to rid the world of the pandemic that is drug abuse; however that may not come for a long time, if at all. While it is important to not succumb to the siren’s call of these substances, it is indeed equally important not to shun and ostracize those who do. Instead such people should be taken for rehabilitation so that they can return to their former positions in society.