The saga of Pakistan’s difficult journey through the dilemma of narcotics proliferation began with the emergence of its first heroin addict in 1979. Being a developing country with a small economic base, the menace of the drug addiction became stronger and remained under cover of Pakistan’s other development issues such as poverty, poor health care, illiteracy, child labor, limited power resources and terrorism. It could not be addressed properly due to lack of awareness, poor coordination between the health care facilities, educational institutions and the families of the recovering addicts. Besides limited efforts in the last decade the fact is that drug abuse is rapidly growing in Pakistan and having a major impact on the society; especially on the youth.
Young people are more susceptible to drug use. They often talk about the “highs” but may not be aware of the many “lows”. The widespread availability of drugs in Pakistan is making it easy for them to become addicts. Drug addiction among the youth is killing them morally, socially, psychologically as well as physically. Researchers have marked the reasons behind alarming increase in the number of drug addicts, especially youth in Pakistan. The easy availability of narcotics and psychological effects of violence have been listed as primary reasons. Children who have suffered violence in their lives or who have undergone early traumatic experience turn to substance addiction. It is also evident that drug abuse is often linked to multiple factors such as impulse control behaviors that may involve experimenting with narcotics, smoking and alcoholism, social isolation, stress, anxiety, depression, peer pressure, modern life style, nomadic behavior, unemployment, shortcut in life, easy and unaccountable access of money from parents, lack of supervision and attention, the desire for social acceptance, boredom, curiosity, just to feel good, weak religious belief, lot of free time, easy access to drugs at low price, existence and presence of drug dens, to heighten sexual pleasure, to overcome frustration or tragedies, use as pain killers, to avoid sleep disturbance and fashion.
Drug addicts are also more prone to accidents and are at higher risk of HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B & C, tuberculosis, suicide, overdose deaths, premature deaths, STDs and cardiovascular diseases. Married drug addicts have high probability of having mentally retarded and physically handicapped children due to genetic predispositions. Young people who use cannabis are exacerbating their risk of psychotic symptoms like hallucinations and Delusions.