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Iran's Grave Addiction Problem: 33% Rise in Drug Use Among Women

By Niusha Saremi (source: Rooz Online)

The number two official at Iran’s drug control agency (Setade Mobareze ba Mavade Mokhader), Ali-Reza Jazini, announced this week that while urban centers rather than the countryside receive more attention in battling drug abuse, today drug abuse has become a growing issue in provincial rural areas as well. He said that the use of narcotics among women had grown by 33% and added, “Generally, 55% of drug users are single and 750,000 people inside families are today dealing with drug issues. Last year we had 354,000 arrests on drug-related charges of which 23% were users and addicts.”

Last month another official, the head of a group under the State Expediency Council had told Shargh newspaper that the use of “gol” (industrial hashish) among girls and women in general was a new concern and added, “We have no statistics on this but our fields reports confirm this issue. There is even an increase in the number of people who ask clinics and doctors for this type of hashish without knowing that it is a narcotics drug.”

Recently, Hassan Rouhani’s vice-president on women’s affairs had announced that the rate of increase of drugs among women in the country was very rapid, and at times twice as fast as that for men. According to her, use of drugs among women was changing and moving from the social periphery to sports clubs and hair salons. Shahindokht Molaverdi cited cultural and economic issues to be among the causes of families getting sucked into drug addiction.

Towards the end of the Persian calendar year (early 2015) Jazini had announced that in some respects the use of banned narcotic drugs had become worse in the country compared to the previous year. According to him, in the eight months of the Persian calendar year (March to November 2014) some 2,000 individuals had lost their lives because of drug use and misuse, which was a 6% rise since the same period the year before. According to official figures of the bureau which come from the surgeon general’s office 279 women lost their life in 1393 (March 2014 to February 2015), which was an increase of 33% compared to the previous year. In his interview with Shargh newspaper, Saeed Safatian, the head of the workgroup under the State Expediency Council had said that overdoes, more visits to the surgeon general’s office, the surgeon general’s greater tendency to do autopsies on women who had died because of drug abuse, the change in the pattern of drug use towards industrial drugs and the rise in impurities in narcotic drugs were the causes of the rising number of drug-related deaths. “Issues such as the growing number of drug centers, the larger variety of drugs, the sense of greater security among drug distributors, the availability of drugs in sports clubs and hair salons, the weaker physical attributes of young women are the among the reasons for the rising number of deaths among women,” he described.

Among other reasons he cited are personality issues, tension, physical illnesses, failure in academic pursuits and love, pressure from family members and irresponsibility of family members.

Related Article by Ali Akbar Dareini, AP: Iran's drug abuse shoots up amid raids

Leyla Ershad, a social worker and head of the first center created to reduce drug addiction among women told RoozOnline, “Treatment measures for addicted women does not match what is available in this area for men. Addiction among women remains a taboo subject for their treatment. Shame and fear from family reactions are obstacles that women face in approaching centers that provide treatment services to drug addicts.” Iranian society, according to her, is harsher on women addicts compared to men. She also said there was less social support for women addicts even though women addicts faced greater problems than their male counterparts. “Some officials stereotype and put down centers and groups dedicated to helping women addicts even more than society,” she explained.

According to Zahra Bonianian, the deputy director on women’s and family affairs at the drug control bureau has presented statistics that indicate that women comprise 9.3% if the total addiction population of the country. Their most commonly used drugs are opium, shisha and crack. 62% of women addicts are married and have been driven to addiction because of their spouse’s addiction, family problems and poverty. She also said that women kept their addiction secret more than men because of social taboos, which contributed to the nature of the problem.

Another revelation made by statistics was that the starting point in addiction for women was the years between 15 and 19, for half of women addicts. Ms. Molaverdi added that drug addiction broke all social categories of education, culture or religion. “No one can claim that single social group is the victim of this curse,” she said.

Salar Moradi, a member of the Majlis committee on social affairs has said that economic issues and unemployment are the fundamental causes that push people into addiction. She explained, “Statistics indicate that girls and women that have economic issues particularly unemployment, are socially isolated more than men and consequently driven to groups that have various social ills. This is why the government and executive agencies need to focus on resolving economic issues of individuals and susceptible social groups.”

... Payvand News - 06/02/15 ... --

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