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How Drug Use Is Viewed in the Middle East

How Drug Use Is Viewed in the Middle East

The Middle East’s view on drug use and addiction to drugs like clonazepam varies widely

The Middle East is a region made up of nations on the continent of Asia and (usually) part of North Africa, stretching from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf. According to the Middle East Policy Council, the region was originally named so in order to separate it from the Far East and the Near East.

For our purposes the defined by the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency), the following regions fall under the region called the Middle East:

  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Bahrain
  • Gaza Strip
  • Georgia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Oman
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Syria
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • West Bank
  • Yemen

Today term Middle East is most commonly used to denote an area of long shared history and religious traditions being the birthplace of three religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In the past the conservative religious and political makeup of the countries curtailed drug use. However, with the recent and radical changes within the countries comprising the Middle East, attitudes and behaviors regarding drug use have also radically changed especially among younger generations.

As the attitudes toward drug use changes, so do the rates of abuse, addiction and accidental death due to drugs. According to World Life Expectancy the Middle East claims almost half of the top 20 countries leading the world in death by drug use.

Attitudes toward drugs like clonazepam, the types of drugs used and the governments’ responses toward addiction vary from country to country. Within each country the views also vary widely based on differences in age and religious beliefs, Islam in particular. According to the online magazine The Fix, use of drugs or alcohol is punishable by death. However addiction is infiltrating even the most hardline regimes in the region. As a result some countries deny a problem, others sentence users to death while yet others are establishing rehabilitation programs.

Saudi Arabia and Drug Use

According to a 2010 article from CNN, the government of Saudi Arabia confiscated over 12 metric tons of amphetamine in 2008, with a little over 24 metric tons of amphetamines being seized worldwide in the same year. The report also stated that peer pressure played a major role in the younger generations trying the drug. The high rate of unemployment is also a factor. The Saudi authorities have just recently acknowledged the problem of amphetamine addiction and are beginning to take action to deal with it.

In addition to amphetamine qat is also a common drug of choice especially among Yemeni people living in Saudi Arabia. Qat is a green, leafy shrub that causes a mild stimulant response when chewed. According to a 2013 report from the Council of the European Union, it is often smuggled from Yemen, but it is also cultivated within Saudi Arabia near the Yemeni border where local people consider it a part of their culture, not as an illicit drug. In that area government officials are more lax about usage and do not pursue prosecution for possession.

Afghanistan and Amphetamine Use

Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistanlie within a region of the Middle East known as the Islamic Republic named so because all of those countries are ruled by Islamic law with enforcement varying from country to country. Afghanistan is the world’s biggest opium producer according to a 2013 article from the Economist. Because of its availability opium and its derivatives are cheap and easy to obtain in the country and along its bordering country, Iran.

Iran and Drug Use

The religion of Islam bans the drinking of alcohol, but two million Iranians (in a population of 75 millions) are addicted according to the same Economist article. In addition to opium Iranians often use crack (as they call it), a cheap offshoot of heroin unique to that country. The Economist reported that the rise in drug use and addiction is due to several factors including unemployment, inflation and economic sanctions.

Drug Use in Pakistan

Opioids are also the drug of choice in Pakistan. Just three percent of Pakistan’s four million addicts are women (some think this rate is higher). However, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, women using drugs is highly forbidden and socially unacceptable. They cannot tell family and friends about the problem because of the disgrace associated with it. Even discussing drugs or alcohol is taboo. This leaves Pakistan with a serious drug problem among a large percentage of its population.

Drug Use Across Generations

Many countries have noticed a shift in attitudes toward drugs along generational lines. For example according to a 2010 article from CNN, Lebanon has a higher rate of ecstasy and other designer drugs because of its more Western nightlife and club culture. Young people in Turkey have a negative attitude toward hard drugs like heroin but have a more relaxed attitude toward marijuana according to a 2005 article from the journal Addictive Behaviors. This seems to mirror attitudes in the United States where medical marijuana has been approved in several state and where some states allow possession of small amounts for personal use.

Getting Help For Your Drug Use

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to drugs like clonazepam, we can help. You can call our toll-free helpline any time, 24 hours a day. You can talk with one of our admissions coordinators about the best options for your location, life situation and budget. We can even help you find a treatment center that specializes in treating addicts from various ethnic or religious backgrounds. Anyone can become addicted to drugs, so do not be embarrassed or ashamed to call us today.