Globally, there are great concerns about coronavirus, polio and HIV AIDS but no serious efforts were made to eradicate the menace of drug addiction and its illicit trafficking, which has been affecting around 35 million people every year worldwide. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) Report 2019 has revealed that an estimated 271 million people aged 15-64, had used drugs in 2017, which is 30pc higher than the drugs taken by men, women and children in 2009. According to the report, some 35 million people had suffered from drug disorders in 2017 and only one out of seven drug patients received medical treatment. Globally, around 11 million people had injected drugs of whom 1.4 million became victims of HIV AIDS and 5.6 million of hepatitis C. Similarly, the opioids drug users stood at 53.4 million, up by 56 percent than previous year estimates and was responsible for two-third of 585,000 people, who died due to drugs addiction in 2017. Dr Amjad Khan, In-charge Social Welfare Department’s Drugs Treatment and Rehabilitation Centre (DTRC), Peshawar told APP that UNODC with the assistance of Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) had conducted a survey in 2013 and disclosed that approximately 6.7 million people aged 15-64, had suffered from drugs addiction in Pakistan. He said 78 percent male and 22 percent female diagnosed various types of drugs substances including opium, cocaine, heroines, ice, medicated and non medicated tablets and injectable drugs. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, he said, the numbers of drug addicts had mounted to 1.6 million people including 78 percent male and 22pc female during 2013. “Majority of drug disorders’ patients including ice addicts who came to DTRC belonged to Khyber, Peshawar, Swabi and Charsadda citing various reasons regarding starting of drugs and narcotics”, he added. Dr Amjad said the patients’ history often reveals socio economic imbalances, poverty, unemployment, lack of drugs education, family disputes, peers and education pressure. He said, “The number of ice patients aged 25-40 mostly belonging to upper middle and elite class, are relatively higher than opium and heroin addicts, are treated in DTRC. We all have just a single life and one chance to live. Drugs are like weapons that destroy people, take away prestige, honor, beauty and pull them down.” Battling for life at Drugs and Narcotics Rehabilitation (DNR) Ward at Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), Peshawar, Nasim Khan (32), a resident of Peshawar told APP that he started hashish after developing a dispute with family over his marriage. Later, “I started the heroine in deep frustration and anxiety after I remained unsuccessful in convincing my parents for my choice of marriage.” “The heroine has taken away my honor and dignity in society besides snatching bread from my children. I used four heroin cigarettes daily and paid Rs 300 per cigarette to drug sellers from my hard earned money,” Nasim who had four daughters and driver of a passenger Suzuki van.. Dr. Faraz Khan, Assistant Professor DNR Ward, LRH said that Nasim Khan was brought to hospital in precarious condition and doctors had tried hard to save his life. “Normally such patients feel great pain in stomach, constipation, diarrhea, cholera, sleeplessness, weakness and water from eyes and ears besides depression, anxiety, panic attacks, psychological problems and become non productive to the society.” Dr Faraz said the patients whose bloods were infected by life-threatening drugs such as heroin were prone to restart it unless properly looked after by their families. He said women and people associated with the medical profession aged 18-40 mostly take drugs through injections while many use tablets for mental relaxation and once they develop pains in stomach and chest they consult doctors, adding such patients were prone to face severe breath problems, HIV AIDs, TB and Hepatitis C. Dr Faraz said treatment of drug addicts was costly and around Rs 50,000 to Rs 200,000 per patient was required for treatment. He said the ward is equipped with 12 beds and efforts have been made to increase its numbers to 50. Dr Amjad Khan said 11 detox units and drugs rehabilitation centers including one each in Mardan, Peshawar, Nowshera, Charsadda, Kohat, Karak, Swabi, Swat, Malakand and DI Khan districts were being established costing Rs361. 812 million for treatment and psychological services to patients at their doorsteps. He said 12 new detoxification and rehabilitation centres amounting to Rs450 million would be set up in different districts. A model detoxification and rehabilitation centre at Lakki Marwat would be established with an estimated cost of Rs200 million for rehabilitation of drug addicts in southern districts of KP. “Pakistan is a victim of illicit drugs trafficking including opium and morphine from across western border especially during 2001-2006, resulting an increase in the number of drugs addicts, especially in erstwhile Fata, KP and Balochistan,” said, Brigadier (Retd) Mehmood Shah, former Secretary Law and Order of the erstwhile Fata while talking to APP. “The fencing of the 2,624 kilometers long porous land border with Afghanistan has almost been completed that would significantly help control illicit drugs trafficking from across the western border to Pakistan,” he said. He said Pakistan has been declared poppy free country in 2000-2001 and its cultivation has been discouraged since then. Brig Mehmood said Pakistan was signatory to various UN Drugs Control Conventions viz a viz SAARC and great responsibility rested on UNO and other international and regional partners to help Pakistan strive towards a drugs free country. Khaleequr Rehman, Adviser to Chief Minister for Excise and Taxation said a four pronged strategy was adopted focusing on supply reduction, controlling illicit drugs trafficking, treatment and rehabilitation measures for patients and enhanced cooperation with national institutions and law enforcement agencies in fight against drugs abuses. Anti-Narcotics Wing has been raised in the excise department to counter smuggling of illicit drugs and trafficking, he added. The CM aide said initially the regional offices of anti narcotics department in Peshawar, DI Khan, Abbottabad, Swat and Mardan were converted into excise police stations where trained investigation officers were deployed to investigate narcotics cases after registration of cases. He sought cooperation of media, political and religious leaders besides academia and civil society to play a proactive role in creating awareness among masses against drug abuse. The entire nation should stand united against illicit drugs and trafficking on the pattern of COVID-19 to protect the younger generation from dangerous effects of drug addiction, he added.