Peshawar-Lying unconscious near railway track or staggering in dimly-lit alleyways of interior city, drug addicts are considered a constant threat to passerby while their plight and shaggy appearance that is sometimes frightening also reflects apathy of civil society.

Uninterested for their future and families, dozens of drugs addicts can be seen laying mostly unconscious near railway track at Faqirabad, under Gul Bahar flyover on GT Road, bridge at Central Jail Peshawar, Tehkal and Karkhano market after they were apparently abandoned by the society due to social economic imbalances and domestic issues.

Alarmed by the increasing number of drug addicts, the provincial government and various organisations have waged a war against drug addiction to rehabilitate its victims and sensitize people about the perils of social evil.

But it is welcoming and promising that provincial authorities and welfare organisations are not oblivious to the situation and relentlessly endeavoring for betterment of addicts and to provide them room to adjust and become a respectable part of the society.

“Waging war against drugs is not meant to merely rehabilitate addicts but it should be taken with a broad perspective to provide them hope and ample chances to earn respectable livelihood and become useful part of society,” said Syed Ali Naqi, Deputy Manager Dost Welfare Foundation while talking to APP.

“A multi-pronged strategy is required to wipe out drug addiction from society and eliminate probabilities that victims may return to addiction after rehabilitation.”

The rehabilitation of drug addicts mainly comprises four phases including detoxification, primary rehabilitation, skills development and a follow-up counselling programme, he said, adding his organisation was also working on a family orientation program to provide guidance about causes, rehabilitation and post treatment care of drug addicts.

He said the foundation has a capacity to treat 300-400 drug addicts with separate space for women and children. After witnessing increased drug addiction, he said, the addicts’ treatment centers were set up at Shahi Bala, University Town, Tehkal and at Main Building Hayatabad.

“Severing drugs supply chain and eliminating free availability of contraband in society is necessary for wining war against drugs addiction and our efforts would be wasted if these factors are not addressed on priority basis,” he opined.

He underlined the need of developing liaison among the government authorities, law enforcement agencies and stakeholders to win war against drug addiction.

“First, I started smoking cigarettes and later hashish in deep depression after my family abandoned me following my unsuccessful marriage and unemployment,” said Sajid Khan, a drug addict and resident of Pabbi while talking to APP.

Sajid now living with his married sister was though struggling to bring himself back to normal life but he has lost self-respect and prestige due to indulgence in social evil of drugs addiction. He said that mostly drug addicts are mocked by youth and sometime by children mainly due to their appearances and begging becomes their habit for purchase of narcotics.

“Relapsing is a major problem that emanates from the indifference and discouraging attitude of society towards rehabilitated addicts, who often faced contempt of people living around them,” said Prof Dr. Khalid Mufti, renowned psychiatrist who is running Ibadat Hospital for treatment of drug addicts in Nishtarabad Peshawar while talking to the news agency.

“Our efforts to win war against drug addiction would be useless unless psychological assistance was provided to its victims and awareness in society about rights of addicts was created.”

He said accepting rehabilitated people as a part of society are factors that could provide drug addicts a hope to live and survive with dignity. “Rehabilitation of drug addicts would be an insurmountable task if they were not provided chances, hope, support and respect to overcome their haunting past.”

Dr. Khalid Mufti suggested community mobilisation and changing the mindset of people to support drug addicts, saying it would give them confidence of having social support and courage to survive.

Riaz Khan Mehsud, Commissioner Peshawar, said that ‘drug free Peshawar campaign’ has been launched to clear the city of drugs and make addicts useful members of the society. Under the campaign, he said, drug addicts including women were being shifted to rehabilitation centres while chronic addicts with health complexities to Islamabad for treatment.

Detoxification and rehabilitation centres in 12 districts including Swabi, Peshawar, DI Khan, Karak, Kohat, Malakand, Mardan, Charsadda, Swat, Nowsehra and Dir Lower were established for assistance of drug addicts.

The Commissioner said directives to concerned authorities were issued to hold meetings with welfare organisations, industrialists and concerned departments to impart vocational training to all rehabilitated drug addicts.

The KP government has also passed Control of Narcotics Substance Bill 2019, which clearly defined narcotics substances and outlines penalties for possession and trafficking of narcotics besides elimination of ICE drugs.