Drug addiction in Pakistan
Pakistan is today notorious for many things, but in the last 20 years, drug production and addiction has increasingly become just one of them. The issue of drug addiction is often overshadowed by the many of the country's other human development problems, such as poverty, illiteracy and lack of basic health care. But the fact is, drug abuse is rapidly growing in Pakistan and in South Asia in general. While Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Maldives all suffer from this, Pakistan is the worst victim of the drug trade in South Asia. Today, the country has the largest heroin consumer market in the south-west Asia region. It wasn't always this way. Pakistan became a major exporter of heroin in the 1980s, following the influx of Afghan refugees escaping the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. The major consequence of this has been a significant increase in domestic consumption of heroin in Pakistan. Heroin was once upon a time a drug which was virtually unknown in the country until the late 1970s. Today, Pakistan is not only one of the main exporters of heroin, it has also become a net importer of drugs. It is estimated that about 50 tons of opium are smuggled into Pakistan for processing heroin for domestic use. Almost 80 percent of the opium processed in Pakistan comes from neighboring countries. Widespread drug abuse may be indicated by the fact that almost five percent of the adult population is using drugs in Pakistan. As a proportion of drug abusers, heroin users have increased from 7.5 percent in 1983 to a shocking 51 percent a decade later in 1993. Drug production for Pakistan's domestic market is estimated at close to $1.5 billion. It appears that only three percent of the gross profits from the illegal opium industry remain within Pakistan. Like many of the country's other human development problems, the issue of drug abuse touches the most vulnerable: the majority of drug users in South Asia belong to the poorest strata of...
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