DAMMAM – Drugs are a menace for all countries of the world as they cause great harm to the social, health and economic aspects. They pose a danger that threatens the present and future of a society. Despite the efforts being exerted to combat the menace and deal with the traffickers, drugs are still spreading across countries year after year. This issue has called on the authorities concerned to launch an awareness program on the ills of drug addiction through a program entitled “National Prevention Program” catering to some five million students.
A study conducted by the Saudi Ministry of Interior during the International Conference for Combating Terrorism and Drug Smuggling, indicated the existence of 204,000 male and female drug addicts in the Kingdom representing 1.1 percent of Saudi nationals, of whom 20 percent are women, Asharq newspaper reported.
Exploiting one’s body
A Saudi young woman rehabilitated after drug addiction said that she started taking drugs through sniffing nail polish and glue. She developed the habit when she met a young man in a party who encouraged her to use syringes. She said that in order to obtain drugs, she was compelled to smuggle them from across the border.
She began using her body parts such as stomach and sensitive parts to hide them.
“I led a worthless life for three long years in which I lost the love and warmth of all my family, friends and everyone around me,” she said. “My only concern was to satisfy my craving for drugs until I came across a female friend who pulled me out of this menace. I’m suffering from some ailment and I guess it is due to my addiction to drugs.”
Another school-goer said she used to take drugs since she was in school. She used to hide the drugs in her body adding that she entered the world of addiction through one of her female friends. She was caught carrying drugs when her schoolteacher started frisking the girls in the classroom. “During the inspection, she seized my schoolbag which I tried to resist forcefully,” she said. “Seven teachers overpowered me and upon opening the bag they discovered the “powder”. They took a sample and it turned out to be some a kind of a drug.
I was dismissed from school. I regret what I had been doing. I lost all bonds with my family, my education for I no longer go to school and all my female friends are keeping away from me,” she said.
Trafficking and smuggling
Abdulilah Al-Shareef, Assistant Director General of the Drug Combat Department for Preventive Affairs, said using one’s wife or daughter in drug trafficking and smuggling has been mentioned in the Ministry of Interior reports, but the percentages are very low. Al-Shareef said the Drug Combat Department has a big number of female researchers and trainers, who contribute in creating awareness. So far seven scientific programs have been carried out in several regions of the Kingdom in this regard.
Hamad Bin Sulaiman Al-Qassoumi, Assistant Director General of Customs for Technical and Information Affairs, said Saudi Customs possess all the means of support to nab traffickers before their entry into the Kingdom. “We use various inspection systems such as X-rays, devices for measuring density and dimensions, catheters for closed areas and police dogs,” he said.
Al-Qassoumi said all efforts converge on combating the menace pointing out that with the vigilance system in place and a quick response of the Customs officers and personnel, prevent the entry of drugs into Saudi Arabia. Under their watchful eyes, whoever tries to breach the security, is nabbed well before time.
“The Customs Department carries out an effective role in the field of combating drug smuggling,” he said. “It endeavors to intensify and coordinate efforts with the national security authorities. In the international arena, it coordinates and cooperates with the organizations and authorities concerned with combating drugs. They exchange information related to smuggling that always leads to the arrest of smugglers before their entering Saudi Arabia.”
Al-Qassoumi said besides other means, the Customs Department uses police dogs to inspect trucks, cars, and arriving consignments in order to tighten control over drug smuggling and facilitate inspection of luggage including bags.
Faisal Aal Ijayyan, a psychotherapist who treats drug addicts, touched on a number of factors that assist drug abuse. “The social environment and upbringing have a big role in a girl taking to drugs,” he said. “A person is governed by a number of biological factors that influence his conduct, desire, orientation and inclination that shape his identity. A failure in the professional life or studies of a girl can prompt her to experiment with drugs. She becomes dissatisfied with her life and resorts to drug addiction.”
Aal Ijayyan said: “There is no cure for drug abuse but a person can recover if he gives up taking to the narcotic substances for a specified period of time and keeps away from the factors leading to it, like bad companions. I was treating a drug- addict who had been using drugs for 20 years. Due to some circumstances, he returned to drugs and suffered a relapse again. He even sold his house which he had bought from his hard-earned money.”
Drug abuse and trafficking
The psychotherapist said drug abuse leads to crime and warned that the phenomenon is spreading. “The majority of murders and thefts are carried out by people who take drugs and a drug abuser turns into a drug trafficker so as to make money,” he said. In most cases, a woman resorts to “selling her honor” to get drugs.”
Aal Ijayyan said treatment in the hospital is carried out under total secrecy because it might be embarrassing for a girl. In most cases, she does not come to the hospital but with her guardian. He said the first five days are the most critical because they severe the link with drugs. The patient receives tranquilizers followed by awareness lectures. All this while, the patient is kept away from the society for a whole month.
He said that when a person comes to the hospital voluntarily, he is treated as a patient and not a criminal. “The percentage of those who recover does not exceed 2 percent in the best cases,” he said. “It is linked with the type of drug and the period of time he has been using the drugs.”
A drug addict ultimately ends up in the hospital, prison or grave, he said. – SG