4 March 2014 – Islamabad – UNODC Country Office Pakistan Representative Cesar Guedes and Mian Zulqarnain Amir Joint Secretary Narcotics Control Division launched the Drug Use in Pakistan 2013 Report today in Islamabad. The report reveals a substantial proportion of Pakistan’s population aged 15 to 64 suffer from the devastating consequences of substance abuse. The Report estimates that six per cent – or 6.7 million adults in Pakistan – used drugs in the previous year. The majority of drug users in this study fell between 25 and 39 years of age. Although 4.25 million individuals are considered to be drug dependent, treatment and specialist interventißsons are in short supply, available to less than 30,000 drug users a year. Of these drug users 80% were men and 20% were women, who were less likely to have received drug treatment then men. Moreover, not all structured treatment is free of charge. In a country where almost a quarter of the population is estimated to be living on less than US$ 1.25 a day, the barriers preventing access to structured treatment are exceptionally high.
Cannabis was found to be the most commonly used drug in Pakistan, with by 3.6 per cent of the adult population, or four million people, listed as users. Opiates, namely opium and heroin, are used by almost one per cent of overall drugs users, and the highest levels of use are seen in the provinces which border principal poppy-cultivating areas in neighbouring Afghanistan.
The Report also shows high prevalence in non-medical use of prescription drugs nationwide, particularly amongst women. Almost all women who reveal they used drugs, resort to misusing opioid-based painkillers, and to a lesser extent tranquilizers and sedatives, which are readily available in pharmacies. Another key finding is the emergence of methamphetamine use in some areas of the country.
Vulnerability to HIV and other blood-borne diseases through injecting drug use is also considerable, with 430,000 drug users estimated to be injecting drugs in Pakistan, a higher estimate than reported previously.
The Drug Use in Pakistan 2013 is the result of a collaborative research effort between the Narcotics Control Division Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, and UNODC. It aims to provide baseline information on the prevalence and patterns of drug use among the population aged 15 to 64 in order to inform Government, civil society and private-sector organizations in designing and implementing effective prevention, treatment and care services across the country.
Addressing the audience convening today on the launching ceremony, Mr. Guedes said that there is a strong need for increased support of existing supply and demand reduction measures outlined under the Pakistan Vision 2025 and there is strong need to engage stable commitments from the Government, civil society and private sector, supported by the international community. Increased efforts from law enforcement agencies are required to reduce the supply of narcotics and regulate the supply chain management and dispensing of prescription drugs. The public health aspects of prevention, treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration must to be recognized as key elements in the effort to reduce drug demand.”