A special anti-drug taskforce in the Kurdistan Region seized narcotics in Erbil on June 26, 2018. Photo: Mohammed Shwani |Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — On the International Day Against Drug Abuse And Illicit Trafficking, officials and NGOs claim the number of drug addicts in both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq are increasing, citing different factors.
"Unfortunately, the users of drugs in the Kurdistan Region increase on a daily basis. Currently about 10,000 individuals in all the three provinces of the Kurdistan Region are drug users," said Ibrahim Ramadhan, the head of the Organization for Countering Drugs.
He believes the number isn't at an alarming level according to international standards.
“We have to tackle it and prevent it so that it doesn't spread even more,” said Ramadhan.
Ramadhan claimed the social fabric in the Kurdistan Region will be unraveled with the spread of the drugs.
He revealed that obtaining drugs has become easier through "mafias and greedy traders"
Ramadhan claimed that Kurdish youth travel to Iran and Turkey, where they encounter drugs for the first time and use them, as a reason why they get addicted.
There are three counter-drug organizations in the Kurdistan Region.
"We haven't been able to sufficiently work up to now because the financial conditions of the organizations are very bad,” the counter-drug head said.
Ramadhan said that it was the duty of the government to tackle the issue, especially the Ministry of Health, as there are lax regulations on dealing in pharmaceuticals.
There is no rehabilitation center for drug addicts in the Kurdistan Region.
"Unfortunately, there is no center dedicated to rehabilitating drug addicts in Kurdistan as of yet," Dr. Rawisht Rashid, an expert in psychological diseases, told Rudaw.
There are psychological centers, but he stressed that curing addiction isn't easy and won’t be cured in a short time span.
"Addiction is medico-socio-psychological issue," Rashid emphasized.
He said that all three aspects needed to be addressed when rehabilitating a drug addict.
Also on Tuesday, the Iraqi Ministry of Health held a conference in cooperation with security teams concerning the countering of drugs.
"Prevention is the most important basics of countering and containing the spread of drugs,” Dr. Imad Abdulrazaq, advisor to Iraq’s Ministry of Health, Dr. Imad Abdulrazaq, a counselor to Iraq's Ministry of Health, told Rudaw.
Abdulrazaq posited that security, cultural and economic challenges all contributed to the spread of drug addiction.
He claimed that numbers aren't large, but that there is an increase in number of drug addicts.