Rawalpindi-One-day international conference on drug addiction will be held here Saturday under the auspices of National University of Medical Sciences (NUMS) to work out an integrated strategy to address its rising use among the youth in the country.

The Vice Chancellor of NUMS Lt Gen Wasim Alamgir HI(M), will be chief guest on the occasion while many international experts will virtually participate in the conference on “Substance Abuse, Prevention, and Treatment.” Many stakeholders drawing from various universities and institutes from across the country, who have done research work and were well aware of implications of the drug abuse, would focus on their harmful effects which have already afflicted 4 million youth in Pakistan. The international moot will be a joint venture of NUMS and Phoenix Foundation for Research & Development (PFRD). Its main focus would be on abuse of the substance (drugs) its prevention and to suggest steps for curbing the spread of drug addiction in the light of proposals coming from both national and international scholars participating in the conference.

The keynote speakers will include Director General Anti Narcotics Force (ANF) Maj General Ghulam Shabeer Narejo, Vice Chancellor FATA University Dr Jahanzeb Khan and Dr Mowadat Hussain Rana, Prof of Psychiatry who would speak on various aspects of the abuse of the substance (drugs), its prevention and suggest steps for curbing the spread of drug addiction.

In his brief comments, NUMS Pro Vice Chancellor (Academics) Maj Gen Saleem Ahmad Khan HI(M), (Retd) said it would help identify loopholes in the educational institutions where the students were getting addicted to drugs.

This conference will help iron out a strategy to detect drug addiction and provide guidelines for the policymakers to address the problem. NUMS has always been surmounting efforts to highlight the national issues, especially those affecting the youth, he added.

“We are trying to strategize our policy for prevention of drug abuse, especially in our educational institutions. We will be comfortable when all our institutions are free from drug abuse,” said the Pro Vice Chancellor. He said that was the reason all the stakeholders like vice chancellors, psychiatrists, psychologists and representatives of Anti-Narcotics Board have been invited to participate in the international conference.

Dr Zakia Bano Associate Prof of NUMS Psychology Department while giving details of the conference said that Substance Use Disorders (SUD) due to excessive and uncontrolled intake of drugs were spreading fast among Pakistani youth where sixty four per cent population is below the age of 29 and 30 per cent between the age of 15 and 29 years, according to the UN Office of Drugs and Crime. There is a dire need to explore different important aspects of SUDs including, treatment, co-occurring disorders, prevention, and continuum of care, she added.

All international speakers who will virtually address the conference includes Dr. Kevin P. Mulvey, PhD Executive Director, International Consortium of Universities for Drug Demand education (ICUDDR), Dr. Kmran Niaz Chief Epidemiologist, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Vienna, Austria and Dr. Prapapun Chucharoen, Director Neuroscience Mahidol University Thailand, Dr. Beatrice Kathungu, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology Kenyatta University, Kenya and Dr. Muhammad Zeeshan, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychiatry Rutgers Psychiatry, New Jersey Medical School, New York.