‘Six percent Pakistanis use drugs’

ISLAMABAD: As many as 6.7 million Pakistan adults or 6 percent of the country’s population used drugs last year, according to a survey report 2013. 
The survey report, first of its kind, was launched jointly by Narcotics Control Division, Pakistan Bureau of Statistics and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) here on Tuesday. The report revealed that substantial proportion of Pakistan’s population aged 15 to 64 suffer from the devastating consequences of substance abuse. About 4.25 million individuals are thought to be drug dependent and treatment and specialist interventions are in short supply, available to less than 30,000 drug users a year. Moreover, not all structured treatment is free of charge. 
Senior Joint Secretary Narcotics Control Division Zulqarnain Amir, while launching the report, said that Pakistan has a serious drug use problem affecting every fiber of the society. He said the government is committed to eradicate the menace of drug use from the country especially among the youth. Cesar Guedes, Representative United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, stated that national drug survey 2013 was conducted for the first time in the region and it provided a comprehensive data of drug use and drug related HIV.
The data provided in the report will form the base line for future planning and designing of drug prevention and treatment programmes in Pakistan. He said that the objectives of the survey were to provide reliable estimates of the prevalence of drug use among the population aged 15 to 64 in Pakistan. Cannabis was found to be the most commonly used drug in Pakistan as 3.6 per cent of the adult population or four million people are listed as its users. Opiates, namely opium and heroin, are used by almost one percent of overall drugs users (860,000 chronic heroin users) and the highest levels of use are seen in the provinces which border principal poppy cultivating areas in neighbouring Afghanistan.
Significant differences in patterns of consumption by type of drug used are observed among men and women. While men are more likely to use cannabis and opiates, the use of tranquillisers and sedatives and prescription amphetamines is higher among women. A series of surveys was conducted throughout the four provinces and Azad Jammu and Kashmir, including interviews of 4,533 high-risk drug users, 58 drug treatment centre representatives, 1,198 key informants and 51,453 participants randomly selected from the general population. 

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