Addiction, Iran’s main social disorder

December 17, 2009

TEHRAN (MNA) -- National Police Chief Brigadier General Esmaeil Ahmadi-Moqaddam here on Monday called addiction the main social disorder Iranians suffer from.

“Addiction is the main and the most serious social disorder in Iran, which puts furthest pressure on family members in the country,” Ahmadi-Moqaddam said.
The Drug Control Headquarters’ chief further referred to the country’s addiction rate and said that although there is no accurate statistics on addicts in the country, the headquarters’ figures which has been approved by the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) is reliable.
According to Drug Control Headquarters, there are about 1.2 million drug addicts in Iran -- which is 2.8 percent of the population between the ages of 15 and 64 -- while the unofficial sources show that the figure exceeds 6 million.
Based on the latest UN report, around 930,000 people in Iran consume heroin and opium while 5 percent consume other kinds of narcotics, bringing the total number of drug addicts to 1 million.
Ahmadi-Moqaddam has recently spoken of about 10 to 15 million people in Iran at risk of drug abuse.
According to a study conducted by the University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences in Tehran released in March 2009, over 30 percent of Iranian addicts have a university education. And 7.3 percent of addicts are government employees and 40 percent are self-employed.
Nine percent of the country’s addicts described addiction as the underlying cause behind their unemployment.
Twelve percent were unemployed before being addicted, the study reported.
It added that an estimated 16 percent of addicts earn their income from drug dealing and 35 percent are unemployed.
Although addiction death rate has declined by 25 percent in 1387 (March 2008-March 2009) compared with last year, it is still responsible for nine deaths in Iran per day.
According to Ahmadi-Moqaddam, while addressing the 8th International Conference of Drug Liaison Officers in Tehran on April 2009, addiction caused 12 deaths a day in 1386 (March 2007-March 2008).
“Due to appropriate measures taken by police forces, the number decreased to 9 deaths a day,” he said, adding that addicts’ average age of death reached over 40 in 1387 from 34 in 1386 (March 2007-March 2008).
Iran is the main victim of opium production in Afghanistan, and anti-drug campaigns cost the country more than $600 million a year.
Although the UNODC praised Iran last year for its anti-narcotic policies to stop smuggling of drugs from Afghanistan to the West, one third of the drugs destined to international markets are still transited through Iran.
The Islamic Republic is the best and the shortest transit route for drugs to world markets as it has long borders with land-locked Afghanistan which is the number one drug producer in the world.
According to official figures 94 percent of drug seizures in the world occur in Iran. This amounts to an average of 3 tons of drugs, including opium, morphine, and heroin every day.
Concerted international efforts are needed to campaign against drug cartels in a bid to save the life of the world threatened with this octopus.