Lethal: Drug addiction sees rise in Peshawar

NOWSHERA – What starts off with a single dosage in a moment of vulnerability slowly becomes a daily routine to satisfy one’s agonising urges; thus a crippling drug addiction is born and the same has seen an uptick in Peshawar’s populace.

For 29-year-old Zarmina Gul, a resident of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) capital, a visit to a neighbourhood clinic nearly 2 years ago, was the start of her journey with the daily use of body-numbing drugs.

Gul, who had a mild fever and body aches at that time, got prescribed an injection that not only took away the pain but made her sleep for hours on end. After her first and only prescribed dosage, Gul began visiting the pharmacy after pharmacy to get the injections and administer them herself. Soon, she was ordering them at home, as per a family member who narrated her troubles with drugs on the condition of anonymity. “Random delivery service riders started showing up at our home to deliver her injections. We had already noticed that she had stopped eating,” her relative recounted.

At this point, the family collectively decided to take Gul to see a psychiatrist, who then identified her addiction and recommended immediate treatment. “We took her to a psychiatric centre in Islamabad and she was kept there for 3 months.” Presently, Gul has recovered after the costly treatment and is trying to lead a normal life, as per her family. “However, there are other girls going through what she was going through and they might not be as lucky. Menaces like delivering drugs at doorsteps under the guise of providing a service should be put an end to,” Gul’s family implored.

22-year-old, Ajmal, a resident of Warsak Road, is going through the same fate as Gul but his family does not have enough money to get him to a rehabilitation centre. “He started with prescription-only injections and now has moved on to methamphetamine, also known as ice,” informed Ajmal’s brother, Yousaf. The brother informed that Ajmal’s drug abuse has taken a toll on the family and they live in fear of him. “He beats anyone in the family who questions him, so we try to keep our distance.” Yousaf, who is a rickshaw driver, said that they had taken him to rehab but were quoted Rs 45,000 for the treatment. “I do not have much money. We also took him to the government centres for addiction but there was no space,” Yousaf lamented, adding that the government should do more to combat drug addiction in the province.

The K-P government recently started a project to help addicted people by taking them from streets, neighbourhoods, and bazaars – admitting some 1,300 people to the three rehabilitation centres in Peshawar, under the supervision of the city’s Commissioner. Under the current project, the presently admitted patients would be handed back to their families at the end of August, as per sources from the provincial health department. However, the sources conceded that the strategy was not far-sighted as the government had done little to curb the easy access to prescription-only drugs in the city.

Dr Alina Ali Shah, who treats drug addicts, agrees. “We recently conducted a survey and found that prescription only injections like Avil, Tramal, Gravinate, Ketamine, Diazepam, which are used before surgery or for severe pains are easily available to men and women alike,” she informed.

(Source: National print and online media with input from social media and local sources).

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