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Iran Government Report: Addiction Spike, Average Addict Age Drops to 20

Mehr News Agency
Mehr News Agency / Translation by ABC
February 4, 2015
Newspaper article

Statistics indicate that more than 60 percent of crimes are drug related, more than 6 million people in the country are influenced by drugs, 8 individuals lose their lives every day due to drugs, and every day 70 individuals become drug addicts.

According to the Mehr [news] reporter, official statistics indicate that there are currently 1,325,000 drug addicts in our country and that more than 500 tons of drugs are consumed annually. Unofficial numbers are much higher. Furthermore, in the last five years, 70 drug addicts have been added every day to the country’s addict population. Research indicates that drugs alone are directly and indirectly responsible for 63 to 65 percent of crimes and arrests.

A report prepared this year regarding drugs and drug related crimes by the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare’s Welfare Department with the help of experts in the field, indicates that consumption of industrial drugs has increased from 0.5 percent in 2005-06, to 26 percent last year. The age of consumption has also dropped and women are more at risk of harm. Serious health issues, especially contracting AIDS, are also great cause for concern.


A 15 percent increase in the death of women due to drug use

Social issues experts and pathologists believe that drug abuse is at the epicenter of the country’s social ills, and addiction control must therefore be the number one priority in order to control and decrease these ills.

Research indicates that approximately 8 individuals die every day due to drug use. Furthermore, there is a 15 percent increase in women’s death due to drug abuse compared to 2012-13. A more than 25 percent increase in meth use since 2013-14 has also been observed.

Alluding to the research conducted into addiction, Ruzbeh Korduni, Director General of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare’s Office of Social Ills told the Mehr reporter: “The statistics announced in the 2013-14 report have been gathered and finalized, but the 2014-15 statistics have not, as of yet.”


Drop in the age of drug addicts in the country

He pointed to the drop in the age of addicts and stated: “Currently, the average age of drug addicts has dropped from 23.5 in past years to 20.”

Korduni added: “Based on data collected in the report, the following are among the problems we face in the country concerning [social] harms: lack of specific policies in the area of protection [from] and social ills; lack of a specific person [or institution] in charge of social ills; a solely political, security, judicial, and police outlook toward harms issues and not taking social problems, especially social harms, seriously; lack of continuous assessment of social projects and programs; attention to those harmed instead of the [actual] harms [themselves]; lack of complete coordination between institutions providing protective and harm [protection] services; lack of a comprehensive plan to deal with the country’s social ills; lack of sufficient attention to regional and local society/community-centered plans.”

Having accurate and realistic statistics is essential to the proper management and planning for the fight against, and the control of, drugs in the country. This has been a challenging issue in past years, however, and has yet to be rectified. According to the information obtained from 2004-05 to 2011-12, different and conflicting statistics have been presented about regular drug users; the inadequacy of information in this regard has become a very serious problem that precedes and has become more important than addiction itself.


There are 70 new addicts every day

According to official statistics announced by the Headquarters for the Fight against Illicit Drugs, there were 1.2 million drug addicts in the country in 2007-08, and 1.325 million in January 2013. Based on these numbers, it can be said that on average, there were 70 new addicts added to the country’s addict population every day.

Regarding drug consumption statistics in the world, the Director General of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare’s Office of Social Ills stated: “According to UN Office on Drugs and Crime data, opium consumption in Iran is 450 tons which is 42 percent of the world consumption, and 13 percent of the world’s opium users are in Iran. European countries, with the exception of Turkey and Russia, are next with 95 tons, and Pakistan and Afghanistan with 80 tons, Southeast Asia with 75 tons, India with 67 tons, Africa with 60 tons, and Russia with 58 tons, are next in rankings of drug use.


Addicts use 1.5 tons of drugs every day

Official reports indicate that the annual use of drugs is 500 tons; in other words, the country’s addicts use 1.5 tons of drugs every day.

Based on collected data, Tehran, Esfahan, and Khorassan Razavi Provinces have had the highest number of arrestees with, respectively, 40246, 25816, and 18967 individuals. Furthermore, Tehran, Southern Khorassan, and Khorassan Razavi Provinces have been the three primary provinces for the highest number of arrested drug traffickers with respectively, 2150, 1512, and 1425 individuals.

The highest number of apprehended distributors has been in Alborz Province with 11917 individuals, then Tehran Province with 11150, and Khorassan Razavi with 6708.

Tehran Province with 13955, Esfahan Province with 6122, and Eastern Azarbaijan Province with 4434 individuals, have the highest number of arrested addicts and drug users.


A remarkable decrease in the number of arrests of drug traffickers and distributors

Based on the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare’s Welfare Department’s report, of the 16 million people arrested in the course of the last three decades, 44 percent were directly related to drug crimes and about 19 percent were related indirectly with drugs and drug addiction.

The 2012-13 data shows that of a total of 230,000 arrestees, 5.2 percent were traffickers, 26.1 percent were distributors, 10.5 percent were engaged in transportation, 41.9 percent in storage, and 15.1 percent were drug addicts, 1.3 percent of whom were foreign nationals.

The analysis and comparison of these data shows that the number of traffickers arrested has decreased 25 percent compared to the 2008-09 data, that there is a 32 percent decrease in the number of distributors arrested, 28 percent decrease in those engaged in transportation, and a 27 percent increase in the number those arrested for storing and keeping drugs.


The direct link between slums and drugs

Research shows that in certain slum regions, up to 40 percent of the residents live under the absolute poverty line. Provinces with the highest number of slums are as Alborz, Khorassan Razavi, Hamedan, Khuzestan, Hormozgan, and it is therefore possible that a logical connection can be drawn between provinces with the largest slum problems and those with the highest numbers of drug related arrestees.

Given the above, experts believe the main strategy for controlling and reducing drug use is to concentrate on activities to eliminate poverty and on empowerment activities, as well as provide social protection to the underprivileged groups in shantytowns.


Change in Iranians’ drug consumption patterns

The Director General of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare’s Office of Social Ills pointed to the change in drug consumption patterns as an important challenge and stated: “One of the most significant developments of recent years is the change in drug consumption patterns. Reports indicate that there is a 280 percent increase in the number of meth manufacturing labs compared to 2007-08. Also use of industrial drugs has increased from .5 percent in 2005-06 to 26 percent in 2013-14. Additionally, according to a UN report, Iran has been identified as one of the top 5 countries in the consumption of the industrially manufactured drug, methamphetamine.

Furthermore, from 2005 to 2006-07, more than 98 percent of industrial drugs were imported but now, most industrial drugs are made in the country and exported by traffickers. Also, in 2007-08, opium, crack, heroin, opium residue, meth, hashish, and cocaine were the most important drugs used by addicts, whereas last year, they changed to, in order, opium, meth, crack, heroin, hashish, and cocaine.

Regarding drug use by street children, Korduni said: “Research indicates that street children have a higher rate of alcohol consumption than others, and it is possibly higher than that of the over 18 population. The report indicates that 17.3 percent of street children have consumed alcohol at least once in their lives, and 7 percent have experimented with one type of drugs at least once.

Regarding the drop in the age of drug users, he said: “According to available reports, the age at which drug use started had remained at a stable level until 2007-08, between 23 and 24 years old. The National Plan for Drug Epidemiology, however, shows that in the span of 6 years, the age of drug use has dropped from 24 to 21, i.e., a 3-year drop, which is very disconcerting.


Increase in the number of female addicts

Official reports indicate that the number of female addicts had a 73 percent increase between 2007 and 2013-14. Officials of the Headquarters for the Fight against Illicit Drugs have announced that the number of women who have died as a result of drug abuse increased 15 percent last year compared to the year before. Most female addicts are in the 20 to 36 age range, most of whom use opium, meth, alcohol, and crack. Of the 7377 female prisoners in the country, 60 percent are there for reasons connected to drug and addiction related crimes, most of whom used these drugs themselves.

Some drug statistics indicate that 75 percent of the country’s addicts have a high school diploma or higher and 63 percent are married. Drugs are the cause of 50 percent of divorces and 20 percent of murders.


Reduction and control of drug addiction in the Ministry of Welfare’s plans

In conclusion, the Director General of the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare’s Office of Social Ills alluded to various ways of combating drug use and said: “Given the change in drug consumption patterns toward industrial and chemical drugs among the younger population, especially women and girls, the phenomenon must be reigned in by managing drug use through inexpensive medication within a specific timetable. Also, planners and officials should take steps in implementing the right policies and programs by coordinating between various governmental organizations and using non-governmental organizations’ capabilities.

He stated that the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare’s Welfare Department has adopted policies, programs, and national and regional action plans for the reduction and control of drug addiction in order to take the necessary steps to reign in addiction in various segments of the population, especially the youth.

In any event, experts believe that, given factors such as the drop in the age of addiction, the change in drug abuse patterns and the use of industrial drugs among young people, the increase in the number of female addicts, and drug use among street children, etc., relevant government officials and directors must implement the necessary actions and planning in reducing drug abuse and preventing distribution, so that perhaps the social harms and related crimes can be reduced in society.