Drug Addiction and Iran
Drug addiction is on the top of the social problems that has caused so much concern in the society. Who Knew? According to an article in the Tehran Times last week, there are presently 11.2 million drug addicts in the country. Unfortunately, a government leader reported, campaigns against drug addiction would not produce the same results as campaigns against thugs or drug trafficking. According to the official statistics, there are 1.2 million drug addicts in Iran while the unofficial sources show that the figure exceeds 11 million. Not long ago, a report by the United Nations found that Iran has the highest drug addiction rate in the world. Iran has the highest proportion of opiate addicts in the world — 2.8 percent of the population over age 15. The director of the Iranian National Centre for Addiction Studies estimates that 20 percent of Iran’s adult population was “somehow involved in drug abuse”. In Iran, about 14 tons of Afghan heroin and a staggering 450 tons of opium were consumed locally in 2008, the report said, making it the world’s biggest consumer of the drug.
Many Iranians describe high drug availability as evidence of a government plot, adding, “After students rioted at Tehran University in 1999, residents of a locked-down dormitory told of drug dealers being allowed in to distribute narcotics for free”. “I believe this is the policy of the state, to make all the youth addicted”, said Hamid Motalebi, 22, a police officer on duty in a south Tehran park almost overrun by junkies sleeping on the grass or staggering like zombies. “It’s the lack of policy and management. If they could create enough jobs, enough entertainment, why would people turn to drugs?”
Where do the drugs come from? Afghanistan is particularly generous with Iran, with some sources saying as much as 60% of Afghanistan’s opium is trafficked across Iran’s border. The effect of Afghan’s drug trade is felt around the world, says the UN. Iran, Pakistan and Central Asian nations are among the most affected states but the negative impact of the multibillion-dollar Afghan narcotics flow is felt around the world as it continues to spread, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime said in a new report issued last week. Afghanistan produces 90 per cent of the world’s supply of opium, the raw ingredient used to make heroin. Few people truly believe it is an Iranian government plot, as the consequences are severe. With a quarter of drug users now infected with HIV, Tehran also has spent millions of dollars and deployed thousands of troops to secure its porous 1,000-mile border with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Experts say a few hundred Iranian drug police die each year in battles with smugglers.