Drug Abuse In Pakistan.

Aimal Khan
5 min readAug 15, 2020


Drug Abuse

Drug abuse is when you use legal or illegal substances in ways you shouldn’t. You might take more than the regular dose of pills or use someone else’s prescription. You may abuse drugs to feel good, ease stress, or avoid reality. But usually, you’re able to change your unhealthy habits or stop using altogether.

At first, you may choose to take a drug because you like the way it makes you feel. You may think you can control how much and how often you use it. But over time, drugs change how your brain works. These physical changes can last a long time. They make you lose self-control and can lead you to damaging behaviors.

Factors responsible for increase of drug abuse in Pakistan

  • Increased availability of drugs at low prices.
  • Rapidly changing social norms which place new demands on individuals for which drugs offer a false solution.
  • Lack of jobs and economic frustration.
  • Lack of proper interest in education, peer pressure and negligence of parents.
  • Existence and operation of drug dens.
  • Lack of drug education within the family and in educational institutions.
  • Apathy on the part of community leaders in responding to drug abuse symptoms.

Drug of choice

  • Hashish (cannabis) is the most commonly used substance
  • Sedatives and Tranquilizers
  • Heroin
  • Opium
  • Injecting drug use
  • Ecstasy
  • Solvent Abuse among Street Children

What are Opioids

  • Opium
  • Heroin
  • Buprenorphine, Sosegon, Codeine, Morphine, Pentazocine are Synthetic Opioids

Opioid users (estimated number of 628,000 opioid users in Pakistan)

  • Heroin Users: Heroin remained the most popular drug being abused by 77% or approximately 484,000. These findings mirror those of Drug Abuse Assessment undertaken in 2000 (estimated number of heroin users in 2000 drug abuse assessment was 500,000). Given the massive increase of opium and heroin production in neighboring Afghanistan this stability in prevalent rates is a notable achievement.
  • Age Group: The opioid users fall in the age bracket of 15–64 years which is very high rate.

Drug injecting users

  • Over the last one decade the drug abuse problem has become more complicated as the number of IDUs has doubled. There are an estimated 125,000 injecting drug users
  • It is important to note that in the year 2000 the absolute number of injecting drug users in Pakistan was 60,000, which almost doubled in 2006, an alarming trend that needs to be addressed on priority
  • In 1990’s the proportion of injecting users was reported between 2 and 8 percent of opiod users
  • In 2000 injecting was reported among 15 percent (60,000)
  • In 2006 up to 29 percent (125,000) injected drugs.

Major drugs of use

  • Cannabis is the most commonly used substance followed by sedatives and tranquilizers, such as benzodiazepines, heroin, opium and other opiates
  • Ecstasy & cocaine (ATS) are emerging drugs especially among youth belonging to the higher socio-economic groups in some urban centres in Pakistan
  • Inhalant abuse is common among street children.

Initiation of drug

  • Average age of initiation of drug use is 18 years
  • Majority of drug users interviewed had used Charas (Cannabis) as the first substance in their lifetime

Reasons of starting drugs

  • Influence of friends or peer pressure
  • Social and family stresses
  • Sibling or other family member’s use of drugs
  • To heighten sexual pleasure
  • To overcome frustrations/tragedies
  • As pain medication

How Can We Solve The Drug Abuse Issue In Pakistan?

Treatment options include residential treatment at a specialized center where the patient will be supported and supervised by professional staff 24/7 for up to 4 weeks.

Outpatient treatment options include day hospital (spending a full day in a program) while living at home or in an alternative living environment, or intensive outpatient programs which are 3–4 hours a day, either during the day or evening. Treatment programs in any setting involve education sessions, 1:1 and family counseling sessions, group therapy with other patients. The following are some details we can follow in order to overcome on this issue.

1. Detoxification. Usually the first step is to purge your body of drugs and manage withdrawal symptoms.

2. Behavioral counseling. Individual, group, and/or family therapy can help you identify the root causes of your drug use, repair your relationships, and learn healthier coping skills.

3. Medication may be used to manage withdrawal symptoms, prevent relapse, or treat any co-occurring mental health condition such as depression or anxiety.

4. Long-term follow-up can help to prevent relapse and maintain sobriety. This may include attending regular in-person support groups or online meetings to help keep your recovery on track.

5. Residential treatment — Residential treatment involves living at a facility and getting away from work, school, family, friends, and addiction triggers while undergoing intensive treatment. Residential treatment can last from a few days to several months.

6. Day treatment/Partial hospitalization — Partial hospitalization is for people who require ongoing medical monitoring but wish to still live at home and have a stable living environment. These treatment programs usually meet at a treatment center for 7 to 8 hours during the day, then you return home at night.

7. Outpatient treatment — Not a live-in treatment program, these outpatient programs can be scheduled around work or school. You’re treated during the day or evening but don’t stay overnight. The major focus is relapse prevention.

8. Sober living communities — Living in a sober house normally follows an intensive treatment program such as residential treatment. You live with other recovering addicts in a safe, supportive, and drug-free environment. Sober living facilities are useful if you have nowhere to go or you’re worried that returning home too soon will lead to relapse.



Aimal Khan