KARACHI: With the augmented intake of dope and heroin, the drug called crystal methamphetamine (crystal meth) is gaining popularity at educational institutions in the city. The university-going generation is getting addicted to drugs.
Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had earlier directed the departments of health and education to screen blood samples of students, yet no measures have been taken in this regard.
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Crystal meth, which is also known as 'ice', is gaining popularity among youth. A university student was recently caught taking the drug within his university's premises. Prior to this, similar incidents were reported from renowned schools but school administrations failed to highlight the matter. In connection with this, Shah held a special meeting with the anti-narcotics force director-general in July, in which he ordered the annual blood screening tests to be held, both at public and private institutions.
"As per the CM's instructions, orders have been issued to the health and education department," said CM House Spokesperson Rasheed Channa, while speaking to Express News. However, details of any progress are still unknown, he added.
According to the police, ordinary drug peddlers are involved in the supply of the drug. Lyari, Banaras, Gadap Town and Pak Colony are the crystal meth-selling hubs and the drug was previously sold in Shireen Jinnah Colony as well. On the basis of anonymity, a police officer said that the use of the drug is common in the posh areas of Karachi and a surge in its business was observed during rallies and other political activities. "To combat this business, several attempts were made but the efforts failed due to influential people," he added.
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"Crystal methamphetamine has several street names like 'ice', 'meth' and 'crystal', and it is not a new drug," said clinical psychologist and drug expert Dr Wakeel Murad, while talking to Express News. He added that crystal meth is one of the gravest addiction-causing drugs that has more serious effects than any other drugs. He explained that this drug stimulates the brain, keeps the person distracted from lethargy and continued use can lead to psychological problems and hallucinations.
The drug is gaining popularity among youngsters as it boosts energy levels by thousand folds, unlike energy drinks. The first crystal meth case was reported in 2007 and so far, a 3% surge in its use has been noted. Young men, aged below 25 years, are the largest consumers of this drug while individuals belonging to the elite segment of society are its prime consumers.
"The drug was manufactured in 1886 in Germany and was further developed in 1926 in Japan, after which it was sold under the label of methamphetamine," said Dr Murad. He added that the first ever recorded use of the drug dates back to the second World War, where it was used to keep soldiers awake. In the 1990s, the United States of America imposed a ban on this chemical, he said.
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Three years ago, Ali, a 32-year-old software engineer, who has been addicted to various drugs for the past 18 years, got addicted to this drug. Prior to this, he was an alcoholic and a cocaine user. He came across this drug at a party, and after using it, he remained awake for four consecutive days. "This drug is an alternative to cocaine, each gramme of cocaine would cost me Rs10,000 while 'crystal' would cost me between Rs1,500 and Rs3,000," said Ali.
The addiction causes pestilence, defying the urge to sleep or eat and the need for water, he said. "I would consume a quarter of a gramme of the drug at a time," he explained.
Ali resigned from his job and believes that the drug putrefied him. He faces difficulty in getting back to routine. "Taking drugs, smoking and consuming alcohol are glamorised in our society, hence in an attempt to make myself appear appealing, I tried the drug for the first time," he said.
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