KARACHI: Addictions of all sorts, regardless of the drug, can be cured and managed, claimed the head of Karachi Psychiatric Hospital, Dr Syed Mobin Akhtar.
Speaking at a press conference at Karachi Press Club to mark the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, Akhtar claimed that a majority of drug addicts want to quit but a few of them succeed in doing so.
“There are many reasons behind their failure,” he said. “Many of the addicts don’t have knowledge of preventative measures or of what treatment they require and hence are never able to fight or manage their addiction.”
However, Akhtar also claimed that most of the patients admitted to rehabilitation centres are admitted without their consent, which makes them angry and resentful towards their family and the doctors, affecting their treatment. “It is important that the doctors talk to the patients and ensure that they agree to being treated,” said Akhtar. “If they are unable to convince the patients of the merits of treatment, then it will be very difficult to help them.”
The psychiatrist also criticised the addiction centres in the city for adopting a narrow approach to addiction. “There are many addiction centres in Karachi but most of them focus only on the withdrawal symptoms that the addicts face and try and help them with that, rather than focusing on the psychological effect of their addictions. This means that they only take a short-term approach to the problem and are often unable to help the patient get rid of his addiction permanently.”
The main reasons for addiction
Akhtar then went on to list the most common reasons that people start taking drugs. “Most people start off with lighter drugs, such as cigarettes and tobacco, which then become a gateway to heavier drugs,” he claimed. “Another reason is that most people are not aware of the consequences of drug addiction and therefore give in to peer pressure very easily.”
However, he added, there are some people who are driven towards drugs either through mental disorders or through severe stress.
“Drugs are a social evil,” he said. “Not only is it forbidden in Islam to take drugs but it also causes suffering to those around you, especially your family and loved ones.”
Akhtar pointed out that there are varying kinds of drugs and hence varying kinds of addictions but all of them have negative effects, especially financial; even those as minor as addiction to tea or betel leaves. “Pakistan’s annual tea import is somewhere between Rs30 billion and Rs40 billion,” he claimed. “There are many people in the country who do not have enough money to eat three meals a day but they still drink tea and chew on betel leaves.”
Published in The Express Tribune, June 27th, 2014.
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