Recently, it was reported that in universities, women have started using drugs more than boys. They are more likely to use drugs as compared to boys and will also not seek treatment, according to the report. This is primarily because of the stigma attached to drug use and especially female drug use.
The other side is that we all are aware of the growing drug use in Pakistan. It has always been prevalent in the male population, however, it is soon catching up in the female population as well. So probably the report did not consider the already widespread usage among men and only evaluated the uptick in percentage of increase.
I got in touch with a few students to ask them what prompted the use of drugs and here’s what they said:
1. Lack of recreational activities
Students are generally not encourage to take part in any extracurricular activities. They are constantly reminded that all they need to do is study. This often leads to instructors even scolding them for taking part in anything other than studies. Hence, drugs become a recreation.
2. Pressure to conform
Pakistani society is very close knit. This means that the pressure to conform to the norms of the society is immense due to lack of acceptance for individuality. This suffocates quite a lot of people and when they do not have any other outlet, they resort to drugs. The pressure builds up so much that they need drugs.
3. Mental health problems
Many people also have to deal with mental health problems. Since the results of these problems are not very tangible, not many people get the understanding that they need. And since they do not have a support system, they then turn towards drugs as a support system.
4. Peer pressure
Like many people take up smoking, drugs are also taken up in peer pressure. Friends get together, decide to take a drug and then also end up coercing their peer into it. At first, it seems like some harmless fun but then eventually it turns into a life long addiction for some.
For many people, drugs are an escape. They think that there is no space or people who let a person be themselves. This is why their drug use has increased. For them, it is that element which allows them the space to be themselves. It takes their mind away from the pressures of every day and go into a zone that they enjoy.
There are different kinds of drugs being used these days
There is hash, weed, crystal meth, cocaine, ecstasy, and of course alcohol. One would think that due to the ban in the country, these substances are not readily available, however that is not the case at all. In countries where these substances are legal, there is a proper mechanism to ensure that the buyer is of age and there is a medical need for the use of whatever drug he is prescribed. What happens here is that there is no identification whatsoever and as long as you have cash, you can easily get hold of the drug.
I spoke to a therapist, Dr Tahir Ahmed. He deals with drug addiction cases and has also managed to create one of the best rehab centers in Pakistan. He said we need to be alarmed about the use of crystal meth in Pakistan
According to him, the use of crystal meth is increasing day by day in Pakistan.
This is especially true for the younger lot. He has patients coming in who are barely 13 to 15 years of age and are addicted to crystal meth. He talks about how the market has seen a trend in flavored crystal meth, which prompted these young kids to buy the stuff.
In cases like these, traditional Pakistani parents do feel a little helpless. Addiction is something that they do not necessarily understand. They can scold the child, tell him that he is wrong but don’t know how to get rid of his habit. Professionals are also to some extent not very helpful. Since the public health sector of Pakistan faces a severe lack of funds, we see that the rehab centers established by the state or privately are still using medieval methods to rehabilitate individuals. This also includes using techniques like the electric shock technique. Now this is one of the oldest techniques in the book and has been done away with by some of the most developed countries in the world, but is still being used in Pakistan due to lack of research.
I also spoke to a parent who had to deal with his son being away in the rehab centre for a little six months, to understand what goes through the family members of drug abusers who need medical assitance. Here’s what he had to say:
“My son was away for six months and it was the most difficult time period of our lives. You know that they have made the wrong decisions but you cannot scold them. You have to be there for them instead if they are willing to get hold of their lives again. When we were young, there were no such problems. A cigarette here and there is the maximum that you would see. But times are changing now, I am guessing these things are readily available. It is getting very difficult to raise good kids these days.”
Drug abuse is getting rampant. If you or anyone close to you needs help, talk to someone and seek help as soon as possible.
cover image via: theconversation.com