Hassam ud Din
In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), a growing concern surrounds the escalating number of individuals, both men and women, who have fallen prey to addiction, particularly to the dangerous substances of ice and heroin. Of significant worry is the fact that ice, a highly potent and lethal drug, is witnessing a steady rise in its usage among the population.
According to the 2022 report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), more than 800,000 people between the ages of 15 and 60 across the country are engaged in drug abuse, with approximately 2.9 percent of these individuals being women.
Notably, the drug known as “ice” is concocted by combining ephedrine, a chemical compound, with various other substances. The market price for just one gram of ice ranges from Rs 5,000 to 10,000, underscoring its high value and demand. Ice is typically consumed through specialized devices that induce heightened alertness and sleeplessness in users for extended durations, ranging from seven to 24 hours.
Additionally, it is important to mention that the previous provincial government, in collaboration with the United Nations, had established rehabilitation centers to aid drug addicts across different districts of the province. These centers operated for a period of four months; however, upon completion of the project, they were regrettably closed. Subsequently, an alarming 70 percent of individuals who had sought rehabilitation experienced relapses, highlighting the need for sustained efforts in combating drug addiction and providing ongoing support to those affected.
Drug Availability and Challenges in Peshawar: A Closer Look
Peshawar, the capital city of KP, has become a hotspot for the availability and sale of drugs. One particular area of concern is the Karkhano market located adjacent to Peshawar, where tablets of the internationally recognized brand ‘HTC’ are being sold for as low as Rs 1200. Shockingly, these tablets are known to be made from heroin and ice, highly addictive substances.
According to reliable sources, this market has become a hub for the easy availability of drugs such as ice, hashish, and various other substances. The situation is further aggravated by the presence of intoxicated individuals right in front of a police post.
When approached, an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) on duty expressed helplessness, stating that they have no means of providing treatment for these addicts. In fact, when the police arrest them, they are forced to buy drugs from their own pockets to keep the detainees calm and prevent any disturbances within the police station.
This alarming situation sheds light on the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in combating drug abuse in Peshawar. The ready availability of drugs and the inability of the police to effectively address the issue raises concerns about the overall security and well-being of the community. Urgent measures are needed to tackle the drug menace and ensure the safety of the city’s residents.
Rising Drug Use in Educational Institutions: A Growing Concern
The availability and use of drugs in Peshawar have reached an alarming level, particularly within educational institutions. One of the commonly abused drugs in these settings is ice, a stimulant that has gained popularity due to its ability to keep students awake and focused, enabling them to concentrate more on their studies.
An anonymous student from Peshawar University shared with TNN that ice, along with liquor and hashish, is easily accessible to students within the five Jamias affiliated with Peshawar University. These drugs are believed to be smuggled through Dhobi Ghaat of Islamia College University.
Recognizing the severity of the issue, Professor Dr. Muhammad Idris Khan, the Vice Chancellor of Peshawar University, has taken measures to curb drug abuse within the campus. As part of these efforts, plans are underway to close 16 different gates of the university, leaving only six gates open. Additionally, stricter monitoring and checking protocols will be implemented in the hostels to prevent the entry and distribution of drugs.
Escalating Incidents of Theft and Robbery Plague Peshawar City
The tranquil neighborhoods of Peshawar are facing an alarming rise in theft and robbery cases, with drug-addicted youth resorting to criminal activities. Hayatabad, a prominent area of the city, has witnessed a surge in such incidents, causing distress among residents.
Haji Azhar ud Din, a resident of Hayatabad Phase 4, shared a distressing incident where his neighbor was recently robbed at gunpoint, losing his valuable car. Another incident in the same week involved the theft of a substantial amount of cash from an unsuspecting victim. These incidents have left the community on edge, questioning their safety and security.
A former local government employee and resident of Phase 4 voiced his concerns, revealing that over the past month, drug-addicted individuals targeted five houses on his street. Their audacity extended to stealing CCTV cameras from one home and even removing electricity meters, severing the wires, and making off with them. These brazen acts have left homeowners feeling violated and vulnerable.
Adding to the growing list of offenses, a neighbor shared an incident where a drunkard stole drain covers from their house and removed iron poles with street numbers. The local police station, despite nominal patrolling, has failed to apprehend any of the thieves, leaving residents frustrated and seeking better law enforcement.
Meanwhile, in Regi, a suburb of Peshawar, a tragic event unfolded as an ice addict, driven by suspicion, fatally attacked his own brother. Shockingly, 17 days later, he targeted his wife in a similar fit of paranoia, resulting in another devastating loss of life.
Subih Khan, in charge of patrolling at the concerned police station in Hayatabad, acknowledged that many of the individuals involved in thefts are drug addicts who are eventually apprehended. However, these culprits resort to self-inflicted harm, using sharp objects to injure themselves, forcing the police to bear the medical expenses.
When contacted regarding the distressing situation, Peshawar CCPO Ashfaq Anwar reassured that a comprehensive action plan has been devised to crack down on drug addicts and suppliers. The implementation of this plan, aimed at restoring peace and security, is imminent.
Psychologists Weigh In: The Psychological Impact of Drug Addiction
According to Prof. Dr. Syed Muhammad Sultan, a renowned psychologist and former president of the Pakistan Psychiatric Society and Psychiatric Federation, the use of substances like ice, hashish, and heroin has severe consequences on both the physical and mental well-being of individuals. Unlike substances derived from plants, these drugs are chemically produced, resulting in the destruction of kidney, liver, and lung tissues, leading to significant health impairments.
Dr. Sultan emphasized that individuals caught in the grip of addiction gradually experience weight loss and undergo complete mental paralysis. The addictive nature of these substances leaves individuals susceptible to unpredictable and harmful behavior.
Ice addicts develop an unfounded sense of suspicion toward others, harboring irrational and untrustworthy thoughts. This mental state can lead them to engage in activities such as theft, robbery, and even violence, driven by their desperate need to satisfy their drug addiction.
Unfortunately, Dr. Sultan also noted that there is currently no known cure for ice addiction, further highlighting the severity and complexity of the issue. This underscores the urgent need for comprehensive strategies, including preventive measures, rehabilitation programs, and support systems, to address the growing epidemic of substance abuse and its devastating impact on individuals and society as a whole.