K-P youth drawn to meth as local variants become easily available

More and more youngsters drawn to meth as locally manufactured variants become cheaper, easily available

Mureeb Mohmand May 22, 2017
More and more youngsters drawn to meth as locally manufactured variants become cheaper, easily available. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

SHABQADAR: Abid Ali is a teenager. Despite his age, his trip to the Al-Sulaiti welfare Hospital in Shabqadar (a drug treatment and rehabilitation centre) is not his first. In his latest stint at the centre, currently lasting for two months, he has been receiving treatment for his addiction and relapse to “ICE” or methamphetamine. While popular and common in other urban centres around the world, the drug is relatively new to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

Nonetheless, it has garnered a large market, especially among the youth. Ali tells The Express Tribune that his drug journey first started with Hashish (marijuana) when he was 10-years-old studying in the fourth-grade at a private school. “I first used (marijuana) by taking it from my rickshaw driver who had been hired by my parents to ferry me to and from school,” he says, the eldest amongst his two sisters and a brother. Later, as his addiction and dependence on drugs grew, Ali said he turned to heroin and other opioids. But two years ago, he was introduced to “ICE”.

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Its potency meant that Ali left heroin, and his class 9 studies behind. Noticing his worsening addiction, his family sent him to the centre for treatment. Ali is not the only one receiving treatment for ICE addiction at the centre, run primarily by donations. Zubair Ahmad, the managing director of the centre tells The Express Tribune that most of their patients are addicted to methamphetamines.

“First we had [patients] addicted to other drugs receiving treatment at the centre but nowadays most of the patients are addicted ICE,” he says. Over the past few months, Ahmad says they have treated over 70 ICE addicts, mostly from Shabqadar, while some have come from other parts of K-P. Most of the addicts, Ahmad says, are fairly young, between the ages of 15 to 25 years old and come from lower middle-class families, where other drugs such as hashish are common.

The MD of the centre goes onto explain that the drug is usually used in gatherings of friends, hence the reason for its quick uptake. Moreover, he adds that unlike hashish, ICE has a tendency to make the user aggressive and react violently at times. This, Ahmad says, is the reason for some ICE related deaths after users killed others while high such as a couple of murders which took place recently. Dr Masood, a doctor who visits the facility frequently to volunteer treatment, said ICE use was dangerous, especially for school, college and university students. He explained that students primarily used the drugs to stay awake for longer while studying but are oblivious of the side effects. The human body needs sleep, but after using ICE, one cannot sleep for a long time, Dr Masood said. Where did it come from? Shabqadar circle DSP Fayaz Khan has been trying to crack the mysteries surrounding ICE and how to control its spread.

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The drugs first permeated into Afghanistan from Iran. From there, the drugs made their way into the tribal areas such as Khyber agency before spreading to the rest of the K-P and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. But law enforcement, DSP Khan says, is hampered by a lack of legislation targeting the particular drug. “The suppliers easily get bail from courts due to non-availability of certain laws to catch them,” DSP Khan said. “First, when it was pure, its rates used to be high, at around Rs5,000 per gramme,” the official said, adding now it had become cheaper. “Now its rate has fallen to Rs1,000 due to impurity, as we investigated and arrested some of its users and suppliers,” he added.

Local dealers in Shabqadar, Mohmand and Khyber make the drug on their own now while using different chemicals instead of importing it from across the border.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2017.


Lorie Pura | 7 years ago | Reply It's good to teach or explain to the children/students on what is the cause of using too much drugs to their health....they say "knowledge is power"..."No to Drugs".... Parents must know what's the daily activities of their children even they are so busy in there works.....sometimes children use this because of lack of attention by their parents...... "Youth is the key to the progressive country"...
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