14th February 2017

Drug addiction rates in Egypt: Why are they double the world's proportions?

The Egyptian Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali revealed that Egyptians use drugs twice as much as world’s rates. She pointed out that children under the age of ten abuse drugs, and that the percentage of narcotic substances abuse among women has increased by about 27%.

Drug prices have also increased substantially in Egypt, but acquiring drugs is easy, "probably easier than getting a sack of sugar," according to M., a taxi driver. He adds to Jazira Net "I can live without sugar, but I cannot reduce the amount of Tramadol, otherwise I will not be able to work intensely and support my family."

Use of medications

Pharmacist Dalia Kilani reveals that some drug addicts take a number of antiallergic drugs, available at low prices in pharmacies, including cough medications that the patient consumes completely before leaving the pharmacy.

She told Jazira Net that "cold tablets are crushed and consumed as powder in shisha, or by injection after they have been dissolved into liquid." Regarding Tramadol, the government has taken the necessary steps by allowing the prescription of this substance to inpatients in hospitals. "

For his part, psychiatrist Ahmed Abdullah is not surprised for this duplication of drug use rates in Egypt "It is normal that living amid an increased pressure, Egyptians would resort to drugs driven by a very strong desire to relieve their tension and stress."

He told Jazeera Net that "many people are facing life without balanced mechanisms that help them alleviate the existing stress in their life, as is the case in normal humans, even the poor ones around the world. Some Egyptians face this pressure by resorting to drugs, which use has become less tiring than any other thing."

He adds that religion exhorts recreation, but a large number of religious sheikhs prohibit drug use, same stance they have regarding music for example. This extremist opinion increases the problem upon people.

The inevitable result according to the opinion of this psychiatrist is "a lack of efficiency, absurd behavior, increasing problems and therefore the duplication of drug use, especially with the practice of old and unnecessary treatment methods."

Ahmed Abdullah says that the treatment of the addict is easy, but what is even easier is his relapse into addiction. Hence the only effective alternative is to provide a continuous protection throughout life.

Tramadol: a disaster

The former head of the Abbasside hospital addiction unit, Abdul Rahman Hammad, talks about the increased supply and demand for drugs in the market amid the instability in the midst of Arab Spring revolutions, in addition to increased cross-border smuggling, where countries in the region and Egypt in particular are targeted.

Hammad believes that "Tramadol is the biggest disaster given its spread among young people, due to the deterioration of social conditions, and the growing number of filmmaking that promote drugs and violence."

He considers Tramadol to be one of the most dangerous types of drugs because it is a synthetic drug that is part of the "morphine" group and that acts on the central nervous system.

Dr Hammad adds that one of the reasons for the spread of Tramadol is its low price, ease of acquisition and the misconception that it does not lead to addiction. Not to mention that the criminalization of its use has only recently been implemented.

He notes that Tramadol is consumed by various social categories, including housewives, since it is a stimulant that increases energy and delays the feeling of fatigue.

Dr. Hammad adds that international research confirms the continued increase in drug addiction among women. The most dangerous in this phenomenon is the poor impact on the family, at a time when many families refrain from providing treatment to their addicted daughters.

Dr Hammad believes that the solution to the current problem of increased drug rates is the activation of the national drug control strategy, which includes: supply reduction by tightening relevant laws, agreements with drug-producing countries, fighting money laundering with the reduction of demand through prevention, treatment and the reintegration of former drug addicts in the community.

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